Turnout negligible in election that sends Knox, Richardson to runoff for New Orleans legislature seat

From left, Alonzo Knox and Sibil 'Fox' Richardson advanced Saturday (Feb. 18) into the March 25...
From left, Alonzo Knox and Sibil 'Fox' Richardson advanced Saturday (Feb. 18) into the March 25 runoff election for the New Orleans-based District 93 seat in Louisiana's House of Representatives.(WVUE-Fox 8)
Published: Feb. 19, 2023 at 10:59 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - What if they held an election and no one came?

Such was nearly the case Saturday (Feb. 18) in Orleans Parish, where barely more than 1,300 voters took time away from the NOMTOC, Iris, Tucks and Endymion Carnival parades to cast a ballot to help decide who will fill a New Orleans seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

Unofficially, turnout for the 93rd District special election clocked in at 6.1 percent of eligible Orleans Parish registered voters, according to Louisiana Secretary of State’s website. There were just 2,041 ballots cast in the race, including 726 submitted during a weeklong early voting period.

That means 1,315 people voted on the poorly timed election day Saturday, scheduled for the final weekend of the busy Carnival season. Parade route-related road closures made it harder for voters to get to the polls, even if they were so inclined amid the holiday festivities.

Scheduling an Orleans Parish special election on Endymion Saturday helped contribute to weak...
Scheduling an Orleans Parish special election on Endymion Saturday helped contribute to weak voter turnout, as evidenced by no candidate for the 93rd Representative District amassing more than 760 votes in a city of 396,000 people.(Louisiana Secretary of State)

Advancing from the six-candidate field to the March 25 runoff election for the seat were Sibil “Fox” Richardson and Alonzo Knox, though neither can claim much of a mandate from Saturday’s results. From a city of an estimated 396,000 residents, neither Democratic candidate mustered even 800 votes.

Richardson boasted the endorsements of US Congressman Troy Carter, New Orleans City Council members J.P. Morrell, Helena Moreno and Lesli Harris; and Royce Duplessis, who vacated the seat in the 93rd when he successfully ran for state senator last November, taking the seat vacated by convicted felon Karen Carter Peterson. That local politico star power sent Richardson -- a prison reform activist, motivational speaker and mother of six -- into first place Saturday, albeit with only 760 votes.

Richardson and her formerly incarcerated husband Rob are the authors of “Time: The Untold Story of Love That Held Us Together When Incarceration Kept Us Apart,” which was adapted into an 2022 Oscar-nominated documentary, “Time.” Richardson says on her website that she also has worked with Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), the Innocence Project and the formerly imprisoned persons advocacy group VOTE (Voters Organized to Educate, rebranded from its previous moniker Voice of the Experienced). VOTE, however, has endorsed Knox in the race.

Knox, a former US Marine living with his wife in Treme, finished second on Saturday with 625 votes. His campaign website says he and wife Jessica are business owners of the Backatown Coffee Parlour on Basin Street and that he is a former legislative aide with experience both in Washington D.C. and in Baton Rouge.

Knox served as Director of Community Engagement for the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation and co-founded the Friends of Treme (which produces the annual Treme Fest). His list of endorsements includes VOTE, Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson, former city councilmember Jackie Clarkson, the Louisiana Restaurant Association and The Gambit weekly newspaper.

Eliminated from the race on Saturday were real estate developer Steven Kennedy (214 votes), Fairground Triangle Neighborhood Assocation president Morgan Clevenger (211), sole Republican candidate Matthew Hill (142) and Seventh Ward community organizer Tenaj “Naj” Wallace (89).

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