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LESLI'S
PLATFORM

Lesli Harris believes that when we have leadership that focuses on communication, transparency, and accountability, we can solve big problems together. Leslie has no hidden political agenda. She's an attorney who has spent her career advocating for clients like Forum for Equality, the New Orleans Saints, and our city’s artists and culture bearers. She served as Chief of Staff to Loyola’s first woman president where she helped turn the university’s financial ship around and kept students, staff, and faculty safe leading Loyola’s COVID response. Lesli has been listening to the concerns and frustrations of our neighbors and she’s ready to hit the ground running to offer real change on issues like violent crime, infrastructure, affordable housing, and energy.

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REDUCE VIOLENT CRIME

Violent crime hasn’t been this bad since the 1990’s. Our streets are flooded with illegal guns. Lesli Harris got into this race because her elderly neighbors in her Central City neighborhood are afraid to leave their homes at night. Because people she works with are scared to stop at a gas station in New Orleans. And the current leadership isn’t doing anything about it. As Councilmember, Lesli will:

  • Advocate for immediate interventions to interrupt the current surge of violent crime, focusing on illegal guns. Lesli will work with elected officials at every level to get the resources we need to target gun trafficking and auto break-ins. Federal dollars are available -- President Biden recently announced federal firearms trafficking strike forces in five cities, but not New Orleans. Baton Rouge is one of 15 cities to receive federal funding for anti-violence programs. Lesli will marshall our community’s leadership to make the case for more federal resources to make our city safer.

 

  • Work with state, federal, and private partners to invest in community violence intervention programs, including workforce training, mentorships, after-school programs, and tech training to give our young people real opportunities and alternatives in New Orleans. 

  • Prioritize public safety resources and fully staff our police, fire, and EMS forces. Our police force is down to around 1,050 officers and experts say that we need around 1,500 to answer calls and investigate crimes in a city of our size. We must attract and retain qualified officers with retention bonuses, college loan forgiveness, free or inexpensive higher education through partnerships with our local universities. We must do the same for Fire and EMS personnel. And we need to increase criminal justice resources (and limit police interaction for non-violent incidents) by using trained civilians who can deal with minor traffic accidents and mental health professionals to respond to non-violent behavioral health crisis calls. 

  • Bring together an Action Force made up of retired police, university professors, and other criminal justice experts to take 60 days to identify any legislation we need to address illegal guns and violent crime.

02

FIX AND IMPROVE OUR CITY’S BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE 

Our city’s streets are torn up for months at a time with no communication to the residents and businesses affected. We have frequent boil water advisories and power outages with no advance notice. Hurricane Ida compounded our unacceptable trash problem and brought Entergy’s failures back to the forefront. If leadership can contact us to ask us around election time, they can communicate about these streets and drainage projects. If the utility companies can contact us about a bill, they can contact us about outages. As Councilmember, Lesli will:

 

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  • Review all current city construction and services contracts to insist on compliance with timelines and accountability for delays, including imposition of fines, and if necessary, termination and re-bidding. Trash contracts will be a top priority. 

  • Push for functional online, real-time construction trackers so that residents and businesses can prepare for the inconveniences caused by street projects and know when construction will be completed. The current system is not working, creates chaos, and could be solved with basic communication and accountability. 

  • Work with the S&WB to get to the bottom of no-notice water shut offs, boil water advisories, unexpectedly high bills, street flooding, and better communication with customers.

  • Review previous studies done to determine whether S&WB should become part of the Department of Public Works. That work has been done but no action seems to have been taken. At the bare minimum, we need a single project manager or management office who can coordinate the work between S&WB and DPW (and potentially Cox Cable and Entergy).

  • Advocate for federal funds for drainage. Lesli will work with White House Advisor Cedric Richmond and push him to get President Biden to make our S&WB a funding priority. 

  • Hold city trash contractors accountable for breaching their contracts, support hoppers' demands for a living wage and PPE, and marshall all our resources to supplement trash pick up in the meantime. 

  • Create a dedicated telephone line to report potholes and sinkholes and slow construction progress, with real follow up on those calls in a timely fashion.

  • Hold city trash contractors accountable for breaching their contracts, support hoppers' demands for a living wage and PPE, and marshall all our resources to supplement trash pick up in the meantime.

  • Bring universal broadband to New Orleans. Internet access and technology is a necessity, not a luxury. We must close the digital divide.
     

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ADDRESS HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

Many of our city’s residents spend over half their monthly income on housing. The proliferation of short term rentals has resulted in rapid changes to the New Orleans housing market and the fabric of our neighborhoods. New Orleans’ neighborhoods were the backbone of our city’s recovery after Hurricane Katrina.

We’ve got to find resources to increase the supply of affordable housing in our city and enforce our zoning laws and short term rental regulations to make our neighborhoods strong again. The Biden Administration has doubled the federal budget dedicated to fixing housing insecurity. As Councilmember, Lesli will fight for our share of those funds so that we can: 

 

  • Provide grants to low-income homeowners to make essential repairs so their homes do not fall into blight;

 

  • Increase first-time home buyers’ training, financial programs, and soft second mortgage assistance programs;

  • Repurpose City-owned properties for affordable housing and low-barrier homeless shelters.

As Councilmember, Lesli will also: 

  • Use the power of the City Council to ensure reasonable utility rates without unexpected spikes; 

  • Work with our state representative to lobby for passage of the 10% assessment cap on unimproved homes;

  • Ensure better enforcement of STR regulations and seek community input on whether the current laws are appropriate.

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REQUIRE AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE, AND CLEAN ENERGY SERVICES

The New Orleans City Council regulates Entergy’s rates, the types of services it provides, and the types of energy powering our city. City Councilmembers have an enormous power to influence the lives of New Orleans residents and businesses through the regulation of Entergy.

As Councilmember, Lesli Harris will hold Entergy accountable for its failures and insist on transparency in all Entergy’s actions. Lesli will require Entergy to make the investments needed to provide customers with the most cost-efficient, environmentally-sound energy services and harden all systems so that we are prepared for the effects of climate change.
  • Oppose All Efforts to Pass Along Costs of Post-Hurricane Ida Power Restoration to Customers. New Orleans customers already pay for a $210 million gas-powered power plant in New Orleans East that was supposed to provide back-up power for events like Hurricane Ida. New Orleanians are also charged for a storm fund for post-storm repairs. Lesli Harris will vote NO on any efforts by Entergy to pass along additional costs of Post-Hurricane Ida power restoration and repair. 

  • Hold Entergy Accountable for its Failures. The NOLA East power plant did not perform as promised during Hurricane Ida. From unscrupulous lobbying efforts to unnecessary shut-offs during peak energy usage times, under our current leadership, Entergy has left customers in the dark too many times. Council President Helena Moreno has committed to an independent and comprehensive audit of Entergy’s management practices. Lesli Harris supports this audit to ensure that New Orleans customers are being treated fairly and that Entergy abides by best practices.  

  • Harden our Systems Against the Effects of Climate Change. The City Council must require Entergy to amplify green energy efforts. Lesli Harris will work to implement and strengthen the recently approved Renewable and Clean Portfolio Standard and ensure that electricity supplied to New Orleans residents meets the requirements for phasing out dirty coal, oil, and gas. Lesli will advance community solar projects for renters and other residents who face barriers to roof-top solar, and ensure that solar customers have the necessary batteries to power microgrids supporting their neighborhoods when hurricanes and other outages happen.

  • Require Ethical and Conflict-Free Decision Making by Councilmembers. District B’s current Councilmember is a former paid Entergy consultant. In August 2021, the New Orleans Ethics Review Board voted unanimously to recommend a revision to the city’s Code of Ethics that would bar City Council members and candidates from accepting political contributions from city-regulated utility firms like Entergy New Orleans or Cox Communications. Lesli will author legislation to bring effect to this recommendation. She will call upon her fellow Councilmembers to refrain from voting on matters related to Entergy if they have financial and ethical conflicts of interest. Read more here.

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INVEST IN BETTER JOBS & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Team work

​The residents of District B deserve better jobs, better wages, and a better environment for building their businesses. Quality of life issues like crime, infrastructure, and basic services are the foundation we build from. As a lawyer, Lesli has worked with a diverse clientele of local businesses - from small businesses and entrepreneurs to the New Orleans Saints and NBCUniversal. She listened to their needs and helped solve their problems. As Councilmember, Lesli will continue to listen to the needs of our workers and businesses.

  • Support Entrepreneurs and the Cultural Economy. As a lawyer, Lesli has been involved in the city’s entrepreneurial community and has helped entrepreneurs get their companies up and running and protect their intellectual property. She has also worked with New Orleans’ artists, authors, and culture-bearers on intellectual property issues to ensure that their artistic works are protected.  As Councilmember, Lesli will find resources to encourage startup companies and minority and women entrepreneurs and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. City partnerships with iIncubators like Propeller, Idea Village, and programs run by the Urban League and the Chamber of Commerce can continue to help train and support entrepreneurs and grow economic development in the district.  The City should provide more robust support of these programs.  

 

  • Support Unions & A Living Wage. Lesli grew up in a family of union organizers and members. Her father was a member of United Steel Workers, and her great-grandfather was one of the first members of the newly formed AFL-CIO. Union membership meant her family could rely on the backing of an organization to advocate for better wages, better benefits, and a proper grievance process. In New Orleans, many of our workers are some of the lowest paid in the United States, with almost 28% living in poverty. More unions would create a real middle class in this City, which is so critical to New Orleans’ economic growth.  Lesli will use the power as a City Councilmember to listen to union organizations and workers’ rights groups and advocate for the rights of all workers in New Orleans. And while the recent living wage ordinance is a step in the right direction, workers need to also receive the benefit of a yearly cost of living increase in wages.

 

  • Invest in Education and Training for Our Youth. Lesli will forge partnerships with government and business to provide more vocational training, mentorship, and workforce development programs so that our young people can see New Orleans as a viable option. She has spoken to companies like DXC Technology about plans to get coding bootcamps into New Orleans’ middle and high schools. They are excited about expanding a home-grown pipeline of people trained for the future of work. As Councilmember, Lesli will be proactive and collaborative - working with other elected officials, educators, and companies to support career development and workforce training opportunities. 

 

  • Protect Our Culture. New Orleans is a one-of-a-kind architectural and cultural gem in the United States and the World. Our culture and history is the driver of our economy -- visitors literally opt to make their homes here after one visit because the city resonates with them. We can preserve New Orleans' unique culture if we listen to our culture-bearers and organizations like the Preservation Resource Center who are dedicated to protecting our historic architecture and neighborhoods. As Councilmember, Lesli will listen to the people who are doing the work every day. She will be a partner and advocate for policies we need, like affordable housing measures, infrastructure repairs, and sensible zoning laws.