Senator JP Morrell
After being honored by LIDEA in 2015 for his role in improving the economic health of New Orleans East and other represented communities, Senator JP Morrell continues to fuel economic growth while spearheading women’s issues and prison reform.
Tell us about the #AskJP campaign and how you think it is working in relationship to your efforts to connect with constituents and continue to develop New Orleans East?
#AskJP has gone well, by all accounts. We’re seeing hundreds of downloads of each episode and the ‘a la carte’ nature of the podcast means you can seek out the episodes that address specific areas of concern. I’ve got a reputation for being candid, bordering on ‘blunt’, and the format really lets me express how I feel about the important topics of the day.
Social media is a double-edged sword. I’ve certainly seen much more engagement with citizens and elected officials and a greater awareness of what’s transpiring in government. That is certainly a good thing and bodes well for Millennials as they come into their own. However, Facebook and Twitter have also lead to people gathering into groups of like-minded online gated communities where they lose the ability to see things from an opponent’s perspective.
Communication is important. Whether it’s addressing the needs of the Vietnamese Community with Cyndi Ngyuen or strategic partnerships with Brian Egana, this coalition has been a leading force for change in Eastern New Orleans. I can say, without question, that New Orleans East is open and ready for business!
Tell me about a summer initiative available to the community that you are excited about, that you’d like to highlight in the East NOLA BDD?
Located in the heart of District 3 is the newly renovated Milne Boys Home, which is the home of the New Orleans Recreation Department. There a host of opportunities to mentor or coach youth teams and qualified role models are sorely needed throughout our community.
Are there any other organizations that you work with to promote economic development in the East?
There are several organizations that I’ve enjoyed working with to bring additional development opportunities to New Orleans East. One of the leading organizations on this front is the East New Orleans Business Development District. Comprised of a diverse membership representing the many interests throughout New Orleans East, it’s been a great pleasure to work with its leadership to focus on the unique needs of the East.
How do you try to manage a work/life balance?
It’s very difficult. Being a legislator is not a full-time job. My actual profession is as lawyer. Being a legislator requires you to deal with a tremendous amount of problems in a very condensed period, our legislative ‘sessions’ only last 2-3 months as compared to most other legislatures around the country that meet for a much more significant amount of time. I’m fortunate that I’m a member of a large law firm so my colleagues pick up my slack when I’m not available due to legislative conflicts.
I also have a wonderful family, a wife, Catherine, and 3 kids, Jude, Fiona and Alexander, that also need me. They sacrifice a lot for me to be able to serve, but I find that if I am present when I’m home and give them dedicated time for our family to connect and thrive, it’s manageable.
It’s a challenge but I’m honored to serve the people of District 3.
What is an accomplishment that you are particularly proud of?
Honestly, I think the achievement I’m most proud of is the ongoing work I’ve done with Rep. Franklin Foil to provide resources and services to families struggling with children with Autism. We began our work by first mandating that insurance companies provide real coverage so families can get the help their children need. Later we worked together to make sure new therapies, and professional services, are available in our state as they become available.
What helps you get out of bed and start your day?
It really depends on where I am that day. If I’m in Baton Rouge, during session, I take my dog (Chewbacca) on a long walk before sitting in front of my apartment read through notes regarding legislation that day. If I’m at home, I wake up with Catherine and we begin the whirlwind that all families experience of trying to an eight-year-old and six-year-old to school, which is essentially herding cats with opposable thumbs.