Tuesday, April 11, 2006




New Orleans Mayoral candidate Peggy Wilson is the Cover story in this week's City Business and the front page feature story in today's Times Picayune.

By James Varney
Staff writer

According to Wilson and her supporters, the fact that she mentions demographics at a time when many politicians prefer to tiptoe around potentially explosive racial issues is one of her strengths. Wilson doesn't shy away from what she considers a blunt truth.

In fact, during her tenure on the council, where she often battled the political machine of then-Mayor Marc Morial, Wilson established herself as a principled iconoclast. In debates or discussions of the current campaign, she is quick to note her opposition to the dominant power brokers then, her willingness to confront what she labeled a corrupt administration. Her Web page biography also stresses this salient feature of her public persona: "Often Peggy Wilson has stood alone," it declares, "but Peggy Wilson has never failed to stand."

Conventional wisdom credits that shift in making a white candidacy, perhaps even a white Republican candidacy such as Wilson's, potentially successful for the first time in more than 20 years.

People who want to write her off should study her political résumé more closely, she said. She won a citywide race in 1994, getting elected to an at-large council seat, and she was in front of a term-limits resolution that garnered two-thirds of the vote, her Web site notes.

When asked how she assesses her chances, she boldly predicts, "I see me and Ray Nagin in the runoff."


Tax-Free City

City Business
by Deon Roberts


Sometimes during an election, a candidate floats an idea so bold it stops people in their tracks and makes them wonder whether it’s even possible.

Republican Peggy Wilson, one of 23 remaining candidates seeking Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s seat in the April 22 primary, dropped such a bombshell by proposing the city operate tax free — no city, state or federal taxes — for five to seven years.

Wilson’s idea has precedent: The United States does not collect taxes from its territories such as Guam, which is allowed to keep all tax revenues.

Wilson’s plan, which she said would “have businesses pouring in here,” would require multiple government approvals. The state Legislature would have to agree to forego state taxes. Congress would have to forego income and other federal taxes.

Wilson admits her idea will not be easy to implement.

“We need our congressional delegation. We need the state elected officials. We need the business community. We need all of the people that have any kind of leadership role in this community to decide that that’s what we want,” she said.

“But I think it’s cheaper and it’s less of a problem for the federal government to do that for us that it is to hand over the dollars.

“What I’m hoping is it becomes a model for anytime there’s a catastrophe in this country that you use this as a system, as a way to deal with those catastrophes,” she said. “I think this is a better way to do it. It puts us in a position of respect rather than a position of begging.”



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