History-making

New Orleans elects its 1st female mayor in city’s nearly 300-year history

LaToya Cantrell addresses supporters at her election party. (YouTube / The Times Picayune)

City council member LaToya Cantrell has made history by becoming the first female mayor of New Orleans.

As The Associated Press reports, Cantrell rose to political prominence in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, after she helped spearhead recovery efforts in the “hard-hit” Broadmoor neighborhood. Cantrell’s leading opponent was also a woman — former municipal Judge Desiree Charbonnet — but Cantrell won the election with a clear 60 percent of the vote.

Cantrell’s campaign was not, it seems, derailed by questions over her use of a city credit card; it was revealed that she had made thousands of dollars of purchases that were not clearly for city use. Cantrell nevertheless received endorsements from prominent New Orleans officials, like civil court Judge Michael Bagneris.

Having clinched the mayorship, Cantrell will have to guide New Orleans through a number of difficult obstacles as the city approaches its 300th anniversary — chief among those obstacles being a surge in crime rates and issues with the agency that oversees New Orleans’ drinking water and storm drainage. But on the eve of her historic win, Cantrell was jubilant.

“Almost 300 years, my friends,” she said during her victory speech. “And New Orleans, we’re still making history.”

Read more at The Associated Press.

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