Candidate questions: Eugene Green, City Council District D
The upcoming election, which includes an open primary for all City Council seats, will be held Nov. 13. To give voters a chance to learn the policies, platforms and personal attributes their City Council candidates plan to bring to the office, Gentilly Messenger has sent questionnaires to all of the District D candidates. District D candidate Eugene Green reveals his answers below.
City Council District D
Eugene Green, Democrat
Place of birth: Charleston, South Carolina (father in military). Moved to New Orleans at age 1.
Schools attended and degrees obtained: St. Augustine High School; Harvard University, B.A. in economics; Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, M.B.A.
Current neighborhood: Gentilly Terrace
Memberships: Silverback Society, Boy Scouts of America, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Gentilly Terrace and Gardens Improvement Association, Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee
Covid vaccination status: Fully Vaccinated
What is your vision for the district?
I envision District D as a place where families and individuals can thrive and enjoy an excellent quality of life. The district and the city are safe spaces and our unique culture is not encumbered by crime and poverty. All residents are able to adequately support themselves and their families.
I see District D as a place where all voices are valued and respected. It is a place where people of different backgrounds and differing opinions can work together to achieve communities that are harmonious, prosperous and have easily accessible amenities.
What would be the first ordinance or resolution you would introduce?
I will propose an ordinance to create incentives to facilitate the building of more affordable housing for the citizens of New Orleans.
What should be the spending priorities for the $388 million the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan?
It is important to recognize that there are certain limitations to the spending of the funds. It is also important to recognize that the city has many short-term and immediate needs. The best practice is to spend money on investments that will yield long-term benefits to the city. Therefore, I favor significant investment in making pools of money available to support affordable housing and blight removal. For example, many of the blighted properties in our city remain blighted because of the lack of private sector funding to invest in blighted properties. A program of grants and forgivable loans to small investors could play a significant role in transitioning blighted units to affordable housing status.
In addition, funding could be made available to support citizens’ preparations for disasters such as hurricanes. For example, the city should consider ways of assisting citizens with acquiring generators to sustain their homes and business during the inevitable power outages. The city could also assist citizens and businesses with preparations to guard against the wind and water damage due to hurricanes.
The city should also provide contract financing opportunities for local businesses to assist them in expanding their operations which would allow them to employ more citizens. The city should also consider the creation of a pool that assists small and emerging businesses with the bonding that city contracts often require but is difficult for small businesses to secure.
What would you do to better address juvenile crime?
1. Secure funding for at-risk youth mentoring programs. The City Council has some funding power at its discretion that could enhance public safety through support of programs such as those offered by the Silverback Society. I serve as a mentor with this program. It puts adults into classrooms with at-risk teens. Each week, teens see successful members of our community who give them lessons that include the importance of accepting responsibility for the decisions that they make in life. Mentoring at-risk youth has many short-term and long-term benefits. It gives the mentees a sense that they are valued by society and encourages them to make investments in themselves and their community.
2. Improvements in the Youth Study Center programs. One way to make these programs more effective is to coordinate with mentoring programs that exist in the private sector. Youth Study Center programs should provide young people with practical skills for use in real life.
3. Mental health services. It has been estimated that 1 in 3 inmates in Orleans Parish jail have been prescribed mental health drugs. Those requiring psychiatric help should not be placed into general prison populations. Although they may have committed terrible acts, they are not criminals. I will work with mental health professionals and the Sheriff’s Office to address the issue, securing funding and other city support to prevent them from languishing in an environment that is counter-productive and that compromises public safety.
4. Increased utilization of ankle bracelets and bail reform. Remote monitoring systems keep low-risk youths out of the negative short- and long-term atmosphere with hardened criminals. I will analyze the programs that work and offer more productive outcomes relative to monitoring low-level offenders. I will lobby state criminal justice systems to reduce and curtail policies on bail that keep low-level juvenile offenders in hardened situations.
5. Family assistance and support. Engagement with community organizations that are family-focused to assist with parental training and enhancement of parental responsibility.
Should cash bail be eliminated?
I fully understand that cash bail puts a burden on the poverty stricken and families with limited resources. It is clear that reform is needed to prevent people who have not been convicted of crimes from languishing in prison for long stretches of time prior to trial. While I am willing to consider changes, I do not believe it is realistic or necessary to eliminate all cash bail as is raised by the question. There are instances where cash bail does assist in ensuring that defendants will appear for trial.
What ideas do you have to bring non-tourism jobs and economic activity to New Orleans?
1. Expand Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs. I will support the expansion of an active DBE program that will impact all city departments. DBE programs, when operated properly, provide an opportunity to grow our local economy by including businesses, such as those owned by local citizens — long underrepresented — in the contracting processes of the City and also the private sector.
2. Additional funding and incentives. I support providing additional funding and incentives for use in our neighborhoods to create new jobs and increase economic activity. I will work with the Council, Louisiana State Legislature, the mayoral administration, community groups and the private sector to identify major stimulus projects.
The redevelopment of certain blighted and underutilized sites in targeted neighborhoods has stimulated economic activity, such as in the case of both the redevelopment of the Venus Gardens building on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, and the redevelopment of the American Can building in Mid-City. An example of a successful public-private partnership is the redevelopment of the site at Paris Avenue and Robert E. Lee Boulevard, which was once a blighted property but is now the site of a first class Ochsner medical facility. As the leader of the city’s Division of Economic Development, I facilitated the creation of Neighborhood Commercial Districts, which stimulated economic activity in blighted and underutilized economic corridors. As your councilman, I will use similar tools in our district and the city.
3. Small business support. I will work with the city’s Department of Economic Development to upgrade the sharing of information with the public on the resources that are available to the public through the city’s many programs that assist small business. Also, I will work to strengthen access to capital for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
How can the city more quickly increase the number of affordable housing units?
There are many ways to address the issue of affordable housing: 1. Increased education about and use of the Soft Second Mortgage Program for those who seek to become homeowners. 2. Coordinated work between the city and state to reduce regulations that have created steep obstacles for investors who seek to develop affordable housing. 3. Supporting the Louisiana State Constitution amendment that will limit increases on assessed value on property.
Is the city successfully handling short-term rental licensing and enforcement?
Improvements to the short-term rental licensing and enforcement system can be vastly improved by simply enforcing the laws on the books. As the council member for District D, enforcement of those existing laws will be a priority.
What can the Sewerage & Water Board do to reduce street flooding in non-hurricane events?
There should certainly be a regular organized system of catch-basin and drainage canals clean-out. Publicity should be enhanced relative to fines and policies should be enforced that penalize people for putting anything into drains other than water. Also clearly the city S&WB should do regular maintenance of pumps and that the parts for the pumps should be regularly inventoried and maintained.. The city should enhance its program’s use of permeable pavement in new construction. The S&WB should be proactive in securing millions of dollars from the Biden administration’s Build Back Better Plan to enhance our drainage system.
What is the most important personal attribute you would bring to city government?
Experience is the most important attribute I bring to city government. I have federal, state, and local experience in providing resources, constituent services, the legislative process, service as a Chief Executive Officer of a public entity, and in analyzing public budgets.
I have served as Chief of Staff for the state’s U.S. Second Congressional District, Executive Assistant to the Mayor of New Orleans for Economic Development, and Director of the Mayor’s Small and Emerging Business Development office. I was appointed to the Orleans Parish School Board, the City Planning Commission, the Lakefront Management Authority, Industrial Development Board, and served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the New Orleans Council on Aging.
I have also run a private real estate firm that has provided job and contract opportunities for over 30 years. I have engaged with our youth in many capacities, as a mentor, coach, and Boy Scout leader.
I know and love the City of New Orleans and her people. As a City Council member, I will use all my experiences, educational, governmental, and in the private sector to enhance the quality of life for all in New Orleans.
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 13 election is Wednesday (Oct. 13) in person or by mail or Oct. 23 through the GeauxVote Online Registration System.
Early voting is Oct. 30 through Nov. 6 (excluding Sunday, Oct. 31. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Nov. 9 by 4:30 p.m. Absentee ballots must be received by the registrar of voters is Nov. 12 by 4:30 p.m.