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State Rep. Stephanie Hilferty facing challenger Charles Marsala in District 94 election

Incumbent state Rep. Stephanie Hilferty is facing off against challenger Charles Marsala in the race for House District 94, which straddles the Jefferso

n-Orleans parish boundary on the east bank of the Mississippi River. Hilferty, a Republican, is hoping to win her third and final term, while Marsala, also a Republican, is taking his first shot at the legislature. The election is Oct. 14. Stephanie Hilferty Hilferty, 37, is known for successfully carrying bills aimed at reforming the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board, including giving the City Council more oversight of the utility and rules related to its billing practices.

While those laws frustrated S&WB officials, Hilferty also said she wants to help the utility obtain funding for improving drainage infrastructure in Lakeview. She has previously helped secure state capital funding to increase drainage capacity in Bucktown. This year, Hilferty passed a law prohibiting corporal punishment in public schools, except when parents consent to it in writing. In 2019, Hilferty passed legislation authorizing the state to lease parcels around West End for commercial development, a charged topic in that area and the reason Marsala chose to jump in the race. Hilferty said the idea is to see some new restaurant openings, similar to what existed before Hurricane Katrina, while preserving Lakeshore Park.

“I've always been very clear that a portion of that money that was generated from the development would go back to maintain the park,” Hilferty said.

Hilferty gained notice in 2021 when responding to fellow Republican state Rep. Ray Garofalo’s remark in a committee hearing that students should learn “the good, the bad, the ugly” of slavery. Hilferty retorted that “there’s no good to slavery,” forcing

Garofalo to backtrack. The video clip went viral and made national headlines. The moment rankled the far right wing of her party, and the House Freedom Caucus did not forget the moment in a press release this month, accusing Hilferty of being a “RINO” and “fraudulent conduct.” Hilferty called the accusation “absurd.”

“My record stands on its own,” Hilferty said. “I’m proud of the way I’ve represented the people of District 94.” Hilferty’s campaign had $59,169 on hand as of this month, with contributions from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Louisiana Associated General Contractors and the Louisiana Restaurant Association, according to her campaign finance report.

Charles Marsala Marsala, 63, said he is running to prevent West End development, especially at Lakeshore Park, which he said would bring crime and destroy natural habitat. A former small-town mayor in California and longshot U.S. Senate candidate, Marsala said West End should be restored with bike trails and other recreational amenities. “The fact that this still sits here derelict (since Hurricane Katrina) is appalling,” Marsala said. Though West End is Marsala’s reason for getting in the race, he said he would also work on school choice legislation and push to abolish the state income tax. A New Orleans native who has an engineering degree from Tulane University, Marsala said he offers a rare perspective for the legislature.

“We have very few engineers that get involved in government. It's a different personality, where you have an engineer who can also do politics,” Marsala said.

Marsala moved to California after college, and in the 2000s he served as a City Council member and mayor in Atherton, a Bay Area town of about 7,000. He moved back to New Orleans in 2011, and in 2016 he garnered 0.2% of the vote — nearly 3,700 votes — in a bid for the U.S. Senate seat that John Kennedy now holds.

Marsala founded an e-commerce company and has worked as a financial planner. His campaign finance report showed no contributions and no money on hand. He said his previous campaigns have been self funded and while he is open to receiving donations, isn’t actively fundraising. “You feel like you're not obligated to anybody when you can do that,” Marsala said.

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