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New Orleans council is again majority white

Election for an open seat tips balance for the first time since the '80s.

November 19, 2007|From the Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — A former councilwoman won an at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council, creating the first white majority in more than two decades.

Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson defeated Cynthia Willard-Lewis, who is black, with 53% of the vote. With all votes counted, Clarkson won with 27,740 votes to Willard-Lewis' 24,874.

Clarkson, 71, will take a seat vacated when councilman Oliver Thomas, who is black, resigned in August after pleading guilty to a bribery charge.

Analysts had said the race could set a baseline for the changing political landscape in a post-Hurricane Katrina city in which the gap between the numbers of white and black voters is narrowing.

Blacks remain the majority but are now about 58% of the population, down from 67% before Katrina struck in August 2005.

Clarkson, a real-estate agent who campaigned on a corruption-fighting platform, served terms on the council in the early 1990s and from 2002 to 2006.

Her election creates the first white majority on the seven-member body since the mid-1980s, when blacks consolidated political gains that began in 1978 with the election of the city's first black mayor, Ernest "Dutch" Morial.

Morial succeeded New Orleans' last white mayor, Moon Landrieu.

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