New Orleans mayor faces renewed criticism despite surviving recall attempt

The New Orleans mayor may have survived a recall effort, but she still faces criticism as she grapples with violence and other issues in one of the nation’s murder capitals. LaToya Cantrell, a Democrat, was the first Black woman to be elected mayor of New Orleans in 2018 and easily won re-election in 2021. Her second term, however, was marked with challenging obstacles including Hurricane Ida, a crime wave and a deteriorating quality of life in the city, culminating in an effort to oust Cantrell as mayor. “There has been an intentional attempt to discredit my work as mayor. It’s been very clear that it’s coming from multiple angles. I don’t expect anything different,” Cantrell said in March after the attempt failed. In September, New Orleans briefly became America’s murder capital, recording 52 homicides per 100,000 residents — the highest the city has seen since the early 1990s. Carjackings and homicides in the Big Easy have more than doubled since 2019.  Mary Murdock, who co-owns Betsy’s Pancake House in the city, previously told Fox News that some people “won’t come into the city because of the crime.” She complained that the city’s roads had become riddled with potholes in recent years, garbage covering the sidewalks. WATCH MORE FOX NEWS DIGITAL ORIGINALS HERE “Our politicians need to concentrate more on making us look better,” Murdock said. “It’s like your house. You want your house to look good if somebody’s coming.” Tamara Jackson, a victim advocates in New Orleans, previously told Fox News: “We don’t have the population we had pre-Katrina, and we still experience in tragedy after tragedy.” “Violence is still being perpetuated and folks are still dying,” Jackson added.  In addition to overseeing the city’s decline, Cantrell was criticized for spending significant time in a city-owned apartment typically reserved for official business. She also faced complaints for taking trips, such as a $43,000 economic development trip to the French Rivera, on the taxpayers’ dime, according to WDSU News.  AMID SURGING HOMICIDES IN NEW ORLEANS, THIS WOMAN IS OFTEN ONE OF THE FIRST ON SCENE The City Council voted unanimously last week to bar city employees from using any city-owned property as a residence. And last fall, the council threatened to dock her pay for using city funds to pay for first-class upgrades on flights to Europe. She described the expenses as a “matter of safety, not of luxury” but ultimately agreed to repay about $30,000 to the city. The recall effort launched in August, asserting that Cantrell failed “to put New Orleans first and execute the responsibilities of the position.” The petition fell short nearly 18,000 of the 45,000 signatures needed to put the recall on the November ballot.  AMERICANS IN NEW ORLEANS WARN ‘DON’T COME ALONE’ TO THIS MURDER CAPITAL Cantrell and her defenders said the effort to oust her was rooted in racism and sexism.  “It’s evident that this recall is just not about me,” Cantrell said at a press conference. “It is about disenfranchisement of our voters, particularly Black voters in this community.” However, Eileen Carter, a Black woman and a lead organizer of the recall who was previously Cantrell’s social media director, said she believed the mayor became disengaged and combative during her second term as the city faced mounting crises. “It seemed like she didn’t want to do her job,” Carter told The New York Times. Since surviving the recall attempt, Cantrell has met regularly with city departments and has been overseeing infrastructure repairs, The New York Times reported. Homicides, carjackings and armed robberies decreased year-over-year for the first quarter, New Orleans Police Department Chief Michelle Woodfork said last month. Violent episodes persist, however, including three teenagers who were shot and killed within one week in April. Some residents have doubts that anyone can turn the city around, despite wanting new leadership.  “It’s time for someone new,” Jodie Flowers, an artist who signed the recall petition told The New York Times. “But the next one isn’t going to be able to do anything.”
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