LaToya Cantrell becomes 1st woman mayor of New Orleans

She's city's first female mayor in city's 300-year history

NEW ORLEANS -- LaToya Cantrell was elected the next mayor of New Orleans in a landslide victory with 60 percent of the vote.

"This win tonight is not for me nor my family. This win tonight is for the city of New Orleans Yes! Absolutely!" Cantrell said as she addressed her supporters at the New Orleans Jazz Market in Central City.

Cantrell defeated Desiree Charbonnet 51,342 to 33,729 to take the city's top elected spot after a month-long runoff. She became the first female mayor in the city's 300-year history.

Cantrell said she congratulated Charbonnet not only on her campaign but for making history with her in a two-woman runoff.

A few miles away at the same time, Charbonnet delivered her concession speech.

"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. I am so proud to have been in that race," she said before congratulating Cantrell. "Listen, y'all. If she does well, we all do well."

CANTRELL VICTORY 'NOT A SURPRISE'

"This is not a surprise," WWL-TV political analyst and Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos said of Cantrell's win. "The only thing that remains to be seen is exactly what her margin (of victory) will be."

Early results showed Cantrell winning neighborhoods in her home base of Broadmoor, parts of Uptown and Mid-City and New Orleans East.

DuBos said Cantrell's victory came amid anemic turnout among voters. "It's not like a race ... where you had a 60 percent turnout pretty much everywhere. We're seeing turnouts that might be at or around 20 (percent) to some that are 35 (percent) or more."

WWL-TV pollster Ron Faucheux said that based on early returns, Cantrell likely benefited from African-American voters. Charbonnet, meanwhile, appeared to take the white vote by about 30 percent.

"If that is the case," Faucheux said, "then Cantrell would ultimately win the race by at least a seven- or eight-point margin."

Faucheux said that Cantrell, who represented Council District B, added another first to the city's history books Saturday night. While voters have sent at-large council members to the mayor's office, never before has a district council member won the office.

BAGNERIS ENDORSEMENT PLAYS FACTOR

Retired Civil Court Judge Michael Bagneris tossed his support behind Cantrell after the primary. Faucheux said the word of a third-place finisher usually doesn't carry much weight but in this case it was more significant.

"His vote really was the swing vote, and I think denying that endorsement from Desiree Charbonnet really hurt her," Faucheux said.

DuBos added that Bagneris got a lot of support in the white community, in addition to the African-American community. "His endorsement cut across all race lines and even age lines among his supporters."

Cantrell campaign consultant Karen Carvin Shachat said the campaign used old practices and new technology -- such as social media -- to engage younger voters. "We had the best of both worlds."

'NO ONE WILL BE LEFT OUT'

Since this election cycle was moved up by several months but the inauguration remained set for May, there will be a six-month span before Cantrell takes office. Shachat said Cantrell will use that time to set concrete plans for his first months in office.

"It's going to give her an opportunity to get it right," Shachat said. She added that Mayor Mitch Landrieu has agreed to cooperate with the transition.

"There's a lot of work to do," Shachat said.

Cantrell in addressing her supporters said that "no one will be left out" during her tenure.

"Today, tonight, it's about moving forward together," she said.

Real-time election results can be found here.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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