Voter's Guide, 2021 Fall Elections, New Orleans
Position Councilmember at Large Division 2
NameBart Everson

Campaign Information

Campaign Web Site

Bio Information

Party AffiliationGreen Party of Lousiana
ProfessionCreative Generalist for Faculty Development
Present Employer / positionXavier University of Louisiana
Length of residence in Jurisdiction22 years
List of educational institutions and degreesNorman C. Francis Leadership Institute. Certificate earned 2017.
Journey of the Universe: The Unfolding of Life by Yale University on Coursera. Certificate earned 2016.
Leadership for the 21st Century: Chaos, Conflict and Courage by Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. Certificate earned 2007.
Indiana University, M.A. (1999), Immersive Mediated Environments.
Indiana University, B.A. (1990), General Studies, graduated with honors.
Prior elected and appointed positions
Civic involvement and affiliationsCommunications Committee, Morris Jeff Family Partnership, New Orleans, LA: 2012-2013
President, Friends of Lafitte Corridor, New Orleans, LA: 2009-2012
Board Member, Urban Conservancy, New Orleans, LA: 2006-2007
Communications Director, Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, New Orleans, LA: 2007
Founding Member, Greater New Orleans Green Party, New Orleans, LA: 2000-2005

Questions specific to the position

1. What do you see as your role as council president? The council president is the single official most responsible for setting the agenda for the City of New Orleans. (The mayor only executes the priorities set by the council.) As such, the council president must bring attention to a crucial issue facing humanity today: the climate crisis.

We humans are putting so much carbon in the atmosphere that it’s causing the entire planet to warm up. The consequences for our low-lying city, and for all of southern Louisiana, are already being felt. The climate crisis must be at the forefront of our civic dialog and action. We have to deal with the problems we’re currently experiencing, such as increased flooding, while at the same time we must take bold action to stop global warming. We have to stop putting so much carbon in the air. In short, we have to change our way of living.

We have the know-how, but we lack the political will. The next council president must help to build that will, strengthening the movement for ecological sanity with a collective vision that integrates social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence.
2. Do you feel like the wages for municipal employees, such as the NOFD and EMS are adequate, and if not, how do you propose raising them? The City must pay its workers at least a living wage. City Council recently approved a $15 minimum wage for city contractors, but City employees deserve the same. The City Council should adopt a similar measure for City employees. We don’t need more studies to know that! Paying our firefighters $11 is unconscionable, to cite just one example. We must go higher for firefighters and EMS? I’m a member of the Green Party. At the local, state, and national level, Greens advocate for $25+ pegged to inflation.
3. Will you support an ordinance to establish an independent external evaluation of the Ethics Review Board as called for in the Charter? Please explain your answer. For two years I have served on the steering committee of the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition. (Note: I am on hiatus now for the campaign.) I was very proud when the coalition brought a recommendation to the Ethics Review Board, stipulating that officials and candidates should not receive money from the utilities they regulate. The Board agreed. This is an especially pertinent issue for climate policy. But for these ethics rules to have the desired effect, there must be an independent external evaluation. The fact that it’s in the Charter but has not been established does not speak well to our priorities in government. Let’s make it happen now.
4. In your role as the regulatory body for Entergy, what factors would you consider to increase rates? This is a central point for my campaign. The production, distribution, and use of energy emerges as the biggest single issue for sustainability in most American cities. What makes New Orleans almost unique is that we have the power to regulate our utilities. In most places, including the rest of Louisiana, Public Service Commissions regulate utilities. As a result of hard-fought battles from decades past, New Orleans City Council has regulatory authority over Entergy. Only one other American city, Washington DC, holds similar power.

You’d think that authority would translate into a really good situation for the average New Orleans resident. But it doesn’t. Quite the opposite.
Case in point: lower-income New Orleanians bear one of the highest energy burdens in the nation. Our poorest citizens spend over 20% of their income just to cover their energy bill. Compared to other metro areas, only Memphis is worse off than us.
The Council needs to bring detailed attention to Entergy’s planning process (technically known as “integrated resource planning” or IRP) to make sure New Orleans residents get electrical service that is affordable and reliable as well as “clean and green.” Volunteers, advocates, and stakeholders have been attending IRP technical meetings, while City Council members have not. Council members have left this task to their high-priced advisors. (Note well: We need to stop using taxpayer dollars for outside consultants.)

Regarding rates, we need to keep rates down! This should go without saying, but given the recent news you have to wonder. The Council has this authority and should use it. The Council must reject Entergy’s current outrageous request for a rate increase of $25 per month and instead negotiate a rate decrease.

Finally, we need to bring down the burden. Too many of us are paying too much of our income to utility bills. Let’s invest in community solar arrays, so everyone can benefit from the sun’s energy, even those who can’t put panels on a rooftop. Let’s run a pilot of the Customer Lowered Electricity Price (CLEP, also known as ProRate), an innovative program developed by New Orleanians. Let’s introduce an ordinance to limit the energy burden. Despite legal complexities, the Council has the authority to do this.
5. Where is the best site for a new City Hall and why? It's clear that New Orleans residents are not served by a unilateral, authoritarian approach. The decision needs to be made with all community stakeholders at the table. Any city structures, especially governmental ones, need to be “decarbonized;” they need to be climate-friendly. Of course, it’s generally more effective to retrofit and renovate rather than build something new. New construction needs to be done with best “climate-friendly” practices: local materials sourcing, low-carbon concrete, energy efficiency, no natural gas lines, all electric appliances, solar panels, battery storage, etc. In addition, we need to train our young people in these trades.