Report from Louisiana: New Orleans has a Mayoral Runoff

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – The next mayor of New Orleans will be a woman.  In Saturday’s mayoral election, two women finished with a majority of the votes and will face off in a November runoff election.

While we’ve spent much of the past two years talking about monuments, neither candidate wanted to bring that issue into the campaign, with candidate Desiree Charbonnet calling it “a huge distraction.”

The race finished Saturday night with Desiree Charbonnet, a former Municipal Court Judge, and City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell at the top of a long field of candidates. Charbonnet is a lifelong resident of New Orleans and had the bigger war chest and perhaps the better connections.

LaToya Cantrell is from California but moved to New Orleans in 1999 to attend Xavier University.  She was very politically active after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the levees broke and flooded her Broadmoor neighborhood.  She was actively involved in the rebuilding and restoration of that neighborhood.

Writing for The Hayride, Owen Courrèges sums up the candidates. On Charbonnet, he says:

Charbonnet is a former Chief Municipal Judge and Recorder of Mortgages for Orleans Parish, positions that shed little light on her policy predilections or executive abilities. Her candidacy for mayor has been punctuated by intense mudslinging; her opponents essentially call her corrupt and intimate that she’ll be selling the city to the highest bidder.  Charbonnet’s coterie consists largely of establishment figures who have been pulling strings for decades, which tends to justify these suspicions.

Nevertheless, Charbonnet is attempting to portray herself as a reformer, and the centerpiece of her agenda is her crime prevention plan.  Her plan entails the old policy sawhorses of hiring more officers and having a national search for a new police chief, but also in reducing funding to monitoring the federal consent decree.  Unfortunately, the NOPD needs more oversight and supervision, not less.  Overall, her crime plan is less a breath of fresh air than it is a revolting burst of halitosis.

And for Cantrell:

The problem with Cantrell is that she’s a major pusher of progressive, flavor-of-the-month legislation.  If San Francisco did something ten years ago, she wants New Orleans doing it now.  Cantrell pioneered New Orleans’ smoking ban, and has attempted to follow up that victory by passing a ban (or at least a tax) on plastic shopping bags, and a “rental registry” creating a new inspection bureaucracy for all residential rental housing in the city.  She has also been a major force pushing affordable housing mandates for new development, and even proposed that New Orleans provide useless municipal ID cards for illegal immigrants.

Cantrell has a reputation as a hard worker who provides solid constituent services, but her policy agenda is the worst species of faddish dreck.  She seems to have little concern whether the legislation she proposes serve any real purpose other than to make peoples’ lives more difficult.

Neither of the two women earned his vote, by the way, and now they will have about a month to earn the votes from the widely spread field of candidates.

No matter who ends up in the mayoral seat, it has got to be better than Mitch Landrieu.  (Funny, we said that after Ray Nagin’s tenure….)

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.