The first female mayor of New Orleans wants to make her mark

French legacy, 300 years of history, traffic problems: New Orleans is not the size of Montreal, but it has much in common with the Quebec metropolis, including the election of its first female mayor.

The metropolis of Louisiana celebrates its tercentenary this year. While Montreal elected for the first time a woman at its head after 375 years of history, this scenario was observed on November 18 in the election of LaToya Cantrell, first mayor of New Orleans.

Ms. Cantrell is 45 years old and has been a city councilor since 2012. During the mayoral elections, all candidates were ideologically affiliated with the Democratic Party of America.

They were 18 in the first round. LaToya Cantrell faced another woman, Desiree Charbonnet, in the second round and won the election with 61% of the vote.

In addition to being the first woman elected to head the City, she is also the first in 50 years to lead New Orleans without being native. Born in Los Angeles, she moved to Louisiana for university studies.

According to New York-based Daily Times-Picayune newspaper reporter Kevin Litten, what made LaToya Cantrell stand out is his efforts in a community movement to rebuild his Hurricane Katrina neighborhood of Broadmoor. in 2005.

The Broadmoor Improvement Association (originally Broadmoor Improvement Corporation) federated the efforts of some 7,000 residents of the middle-class neighborhood – whose population is 61% black – who refused to demolish it after being badly damaged by flooding.

The new mayor worked on rebuilding the neighborhood (destroyed at 70%) from 2006 to 2012, coordinating not only the building work, but also the reopening of schools and even social services.

Among the topics that dominated the election campaign was the poor state of the streets in New Orleans (where trams still circulate), the high crime rate, and the poor state of the city’s drainage system after many years. flash floods during heavy rains in early August.

Another big challenge for the new mayor is the French Quarter and its famous Bourbon Street, where there are more and more strip clubs.

A Times-Picayune investigation has shown that the famous artery has become the playground of the pimps, who have minors working there, often recruited from other states and forced to prostitute themselves in the back rooms.

The new mayor will be sworn in only in May. Rumor has it that his predecessor, Mitch Landrieu, wanted to preside over the tricentennial festivities himself.

The former mayor has introduced changes to shorten the six-month period between the election and the swearing-in, but these changes will only apply from the next election.

New Orleans

  • Founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville and French settlers
  • Named in honor of the Regent Philip, Duke of Orleans
  • Nickname: The Big Easy
  • Population: 391,495 inhabitants (2016)
  • Demographics: 61% of African Americans, 33% of Whites, 5% of Latinos
Categorised as World

By Peter Neil

Peter Neil was born and raised in Newmarket Ontario. He has contributed to Out magazine, Details and Blackbook and served as a commentator for NPR, MSNBC, Current TV and HuffPost Live. As a journalist for New York Daily Gazette, Peter mostly covers national news. Aside from earning a living as a freelance journalist, Peter also works as a personal trainer.

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