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LaToya Cantrell Makes History as the First Female Mayor in New Orleans

During New Orleans's 300th anniversary since being founded in 1718, LaToya Cantrell made history by becoming the first female mayor elected to the city in an unprecedented move.


Cantrell is a New Orleans City Council member whose political career came to prominence through her efforts to help the city recover from Hurricane Katrina.

Like Cantrell, her opponent, former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet, is also an African American woman.

"This victory is not about LaToya Cantrell," she told supporters in a victory speech on Saturday. "This campaign did not start about 'self.' It only started with and has been rooted in the people of the city of New Orleans with all of us being represented here tonight."

She added in her impassioned speech that the campaign was a reflection of the people of the city, and not about her:

Numbers do not matter. Polling...who voted for you, who didn't. Because we're focused on the future of the city of New Orleans, where all of us matter. This has been the people's campaign from day one.

I started this campaign on listening to our people. Hearing your cry. But also understanding that we are in a true position to ensure that we are no longer about the haves and the have-nots. Our city continues to grow and give real opportunity. That pie is getting larger so that each and every one of us can share in it, can win in our city.

Out of 18 candidates, Cantrell and Charbonnet received the most votes in the October election to replace term-limited mayor Mitch Landrieu.

In the wake of Katrina, Cantrell served as the president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, where she was able to organize opposition to the Bring New Orleans Back Commission panel's plan to convert the devastated city of Broadmoor into a greenspace. Cantrell also enlisted residents Broadmoor and drafted a six-month recovery plan to help the city back on its feet. Her persistence led to her claiming a seat on the City Council in 2012.

As a Council member, Cantrell focused on public housing and criminal justice issues. She effectively enacted the non-smoking policy in restaurants and bars, citing the dangers of secondhand smoke when her bill was unanimously passed by the Council in 2015.

New Orleans is ready for someone as passionate as Cantrell.

Cantrell told her supporters, “Almost 300 years, my friends, and in New Orleans we’re still making history.” Indeed.

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H/T - twitter, wikipedia, reuters