LaToya Cantrell: New Orleans Elects First Female Mayor In City’s 300-Year History

Winning with 60 percent of the vote, LaToya Cantrell will be the next mayor of New Orleans. She will be the first woman in the city’s history to hold the position.

The former city council member will succeed current Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Upon taking office as the city’s 51st mayor, Ms. Cantrell will be tasked with solving numerous problems facing New Orleans, including crime and storm drainage issues that were highlighted after substantial flooding affected downtown in August.

“This win tonight is not for me nor my family. This win tonight is for the city of New Orleans. Yes! Absolutely!” exclaimed Cantrell during a speech at the New Orleans Jazz Market in Central City, as reported by USA Today.

Born and raised in California, LaToya Cantrell moved to New Orleans nearly 20 years ago and gained significant recognition after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. She became a favorite member of the city council after assisting the city’s Broadmoor neighborhood get back on its feet after the disaster.

As reported by the Huffington Post, Cantrell helped move forward an ordinance banning smoking in bars and restaurants during her tenure on the city council. She also supported a measure to increase New Orleans’ minimum wage to $15 an hour and numerous criminal justice reforms.

After a general election held in October against 18 other candidates, only two female contenders for the mayor position were left standing in Saturday’s runoff election. While many political experts predicted Ms. Cantrell would ultimately succeed, she was up against a tough opponent, municipal Judge Desiree Charbonnet.

From a prominent political family with deep roots in New Orleans, Charbonnet also used Hurricane Katrina as a backbone while campaigning. At campaign support rallies, she reminded everyone how she got the city’s mortgage recording office quickly re-opened after the hurricane, allowing victims to access vital property records. However, many detractors considered her an insider with the ability to unfairly influence decisions regarding city contractors.

According to the most recent count in the race to be the next New Orleans mayor, Cantrell beat Charbonnet by nearly 18,000 votes. With a tally of 51,342 to 33,729, the defeated candidate gave an emotional concession speech to a crowd of supporters.

“I truly do not regret one moment of anything about this campaign — resigning from my position, working every day and talking to people, touching our community and knowing exactly what the needs are,” Charbonnet told the audience, as cited by the USA Today article. “I am so proud to have been in that race.”

LaToya Cantrell will be inaugurated as the first female mayor of New Orleans in May. As the city remembers its 300-year history, New Orleans now has another milestone to celebrate.

[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]