Former state lawmaker Austin Badon and Timothy David Ray, who now serves as interim clerk, have squared off for voters to decide who will be the next clerk of First City Court, filling the vacancy left by Ellen Hazeur.
First City Court is responsible for hearing small claims cases up to $5000 and civil law cases where the limit on damages is $25,000. The court also handles eviction hearings.
Lifelong resident Austin Badon served in the Louisiana House of Representatives, has an extensive educational background, and strongly believes in “building coalitions, getting things done.” In addition, he is a husband, father, consultant & property manager. He believes his proven record to work with diverse groups, and solid community ties are key components in his being the most qualified for the position.
“I am the consensus candidate. I have all of the endorsements. I bring years of experience in the legislature. I’ve brokered partnerships.”
His noteworthy accomplishments include passing legislation to stop sexual harassment and bullying and assisting in stopping the merger of UNO and SUNO.
“My skill set closely identifies with the requirements of the Office of Clerk. Being a lawyer or having any legal experience is not required…I have managed large numbers of employees in high volume environments.”
Badon is concerned that many citizens are unaware of what First City Court does and what small claims are. If elected, he would work to improve the overall website and online capabilities which he believes would enhance the overall access to justice the constituents need. This would include placing small claims forms and other needed fillable forms online, rather than forcing individuals to come to the office.
In addition, he would work with community partners, local policymakers, the faith-based community and other government groups to conduct outreach to educate the community on all of the services, availability and functions of the Court.
Badon is committed to working in concert with the judges to make sure the courts continue to run smoothly. He plans to create a mediation program utilizing senior law students from Tulane, Southern, and Loyola to serve as mediators between the two opposing parties before they go before the judge. “This saves time on the court docket as well as the parties’ personal time. It will help to alleviate waiting time in Civil District and First City Court.”
Badon’s agenda includes exploring the raising of thresholds of small claims amounts from $5000 to $10,000 and on the regular docket from $25,000 to $50,000. “This will put First City Court in line with the majority of states.”
Timothy David Ray
Timothy David Ray is a New Orleans native and an attorney licensed to practice in both state and federal Courts. With these credentials, he feels he’s the most qualified. Ray was appointed to the position earlier this year by former court clerk, now Judge Ellen Hazeur, who was recently elected as a Civil District court judge.
Instituting the first $15 an hour living wage policy of any governmental office in the State of LA in June 2018, upgrading the office’s computer hardware and software, and completing a series of cross-trainings for the staff are just a few accomplishments Ray wants voters to consider when making their decision about selecting the best candidate for the position.
Ray says he understands the importance of ensuring the citizens who come through doors are receiving the accurate resources & information they need. “Many of the people who come through our doors are seeking justice, and they are doing so without the benefit of an attorney.”
Housing, adult education, and literacy, and exposure for our youth are of great concern to candidate Ray and feel that each directly relate to his current position. He continues to review and research the latest reports on housing to determine where and how city services can be best distributed to help curb the rates of evictions while addressing the overall concerns of crime, poverty, and homelessness.
Because he considers literacy as an issue that can affect someone’s decision to pursue legal action as well the intimidation or embarrassment they may feel by coming to the office, Ray has initiated conversations with the Louisiana Bar Association to open a Help Desk just for First City Court to include a timeline of becoming operational.
Ray was exposed to extra-curricular programs as a youth which included courtroom legal proceedings. He has provided the youth a tour of the Clerk’s office and given them the opportunity to ask questions of the staff. “If we are going to inspire new generations of leaders and have a positive impact on younger minds, then we (even the public officials) have to step up and get involved with our youth.”