Wednesday, March 22, 2006
"If you believe, as I do, that New Orleans needs dramatic, bold and innovative change, I'm your girl."
By Gordon Russell and Frank Donze
Never a shrinking violet during her 12 years on the City Council, mayoral hopeful Peggy Wilson is living up to her blunt-speaking reputation.
Wilson raised eyebrows during the campaign's first televised forum two weeks ago when she used a series of loaded words to question the wisdom of Nagin's oft-heard call for all New Orleanians to come home.
"There are people we don't want back in this city," she said at the forum. "We don't want the drug dealers, we don't want the gangs, we don't want the pimps, we don't want the welfare queens."
Her comment prompted mayoral challenger Tom Watson, who was born in the St. Bernard public housing development, to shoot back: "Do your research, most of those folk worked, OK? Don't punish single women with children."
Undeterred, Wilson added "gutter punks" and "crack addicts" to her list of unwanted residents at a French Quarter fund-raiser last week, according to a news release distributed by her campaign. Entitled "The Battle for New Orleans," the release quotes Wilson -- speaking from a balcony overlooking Jackson Square -- calling for a "revolutionary change" at City Hall.
"If you believe a few cosmetic changes is all New Orleans needs," Wilson said, "vote for my opponents. However, if you believe, as I do, that New Orleans needs dramatic, bold and innovative change, I'm your girl."
In her first TV ads that began airing this week, a narrator says taxpayers for years have been forced "to suffer the intolerable behavior" of "welfare queens" and "gangbangers" living in public housing.
Under a Wilson mayoral administration, the speaker adds, those units will be reserved for "working families." As her words, with quotation marks, appear on the screen, the voice says: "If you don't work, you can't live in public housing."