LaToya Cantrell is the 62nd Mayor of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. She assumed the elected office on May 7, 2019, succeeding former Mayor Mitch Landrieu. She has her work cut out for her leading a city that is still in the process of rebuilding some of its neighborhoods after the devastation levied by severe weather from hurricanes and flooding. This is compounded with the threat of the COVID-10 pandemic that has government officials at all levels of the country scrambling to promote public safety. Here are 10 things that you probably didn't know about LaToya Cantrell that makes her uniquely qualified for the position.
1. She was a councilwoman prior to the Mayorship
LaToya Cantrell became a member of the New Orleans City Council on December 19, 2012. She served on the council until May 7, 2018, when she was elected as the Mayor of the city. The time that she spent serving on the Council gave her a solid understanding of the issues that the city of New Orleans faced and it also gave her some insights on which problems were the most pressing along with the priorities that would need to be addressed upon taking office.
2. She is a native of Los Angeles with an Ivy League education
LaToya was born in Los Angeles, California on April 3, 1972. Her maiden name is Wilder. She didn't move to New Orleans until 1990. The reason for her move was to attend classes at the Xavier University of Louisiana. She studied sociology and earned her bachelor's degree from the institution. She continued her education at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government receiving executive management training. LaToya turns 48 years old on April 3, 2020.
3. LaToya left New Orleans but returned
LaToya left New Orleans after completing her studies, but she moved back to the city in 1999. She made her home in the Broadmoor neighborhood and within 4 years she became active in civic affairs. She became a member of the board of the Broadmoor Improvement Association in 2003, becoming the president in 2004. She was actively involved with the efforts to restore the city of New Orleans' most damaged areas due to the 2005 levee failures, working with Broadmoor along with five other neighborhoods in New Orleans. She helped to organize local religious leaders and residents to oppose the recommendation to turn these neighborhoods into a greenspace versus rebuilding them.
4. Cantrell spent six years of her life on the Broadmoor recovery plan
LaToya Cantrell is a determined lady that sees the projects that she begins through to completion. She worked tirelessly from 2006 through 2012, full-time to bring the community together to restore the Broadmoor community. She and other residents established the school board and they were instrumental in making sure that the Andrew H. Wilson school was renovated and reopened. Social services were provided for residents who returned to the neighborhood. She also worked with volunteer groups to get churches, businesses and wellness centers established or restored.
5. Cantrell has a heart for the homeless
Homelessness is a serious issue in the city of New Orleans. When LaToya was a member of the city council, she worked hard to establish a homeless shelter for those who had nowhere else to go. She ran into considerable objections from residents, and because of concerns, the shelter was moved to a different location that was previously a former VA Hospital site. This gives us an idea of how well Cantrell weighs the pros and cons of her actions. She understands that everyone has rights, and in trying to help those who are less fortunate, she also takes into consideration the impacts the measures she recommends will have on others. She knows when to compromise.
6. LaToya Cantrell made history
When LaToya was inaugurated as Mayor of the City of New Orleans on May 7, 2018, she made history. She became the first woman to assume the post, and she was also the first black woman to be elected to the job. One of the first things that she did was to establish an Office of Youth and Families to help in meeting the needs of families who experience crises. She also worked on the development of plans to help improve the infrastructure of the city with more green spaces and public parks and public transportation improvements.
7. She has received public recognition for her positive impact on New Orleans
LaToya Cantrell has made a habit of creating positive changes for the people of the city of New Orleans. She addresses multiple social issues and works tirelessly to improve the city and its functions. She was recognized for her efforts by the University of New Orleans which was joined by Xavier University, Loyola, and Tulane in presenting her with a lifetime achievement award that was delivered by the presidents of these institutions in 2016.
8. LaToya Cantrell was accused of credit card abuse
There was a criminal complaint filed over the use of a credit card that was issued by the city of New Orleans. The district attorney was consulted who requested that the attorney general assist. There were suspicions that this may have been a politically motivated complaint since it was made anonymously. An investigation was conducted from late October of 2017 through November of the same year. Cantrell admitted that she had used her city credit card to pay for personal expenses but that she had repaid the charges. The event took place during the election period.
9. Mayor Cantrell blames lack of timely information for not canceling Mardi Gras
One of the hardest-hit areas in America is Orleans Parish. LaToya Cantrell recently made a statement that blamed her lack of canceling the celebration for Mardi Gras on the lack of communication about the severity and dangers of the pandemic in advance of the festivities. Mardi Gras was held a few weeks prior to the World Health Organization's declaration of the pandemic.
10. Cantrell can be tough as nails
Failure on the part of some residents of New Orleans to follow the recently ordered shelter in place mandate has resulted in a forceful response from LaToya Cantrell. She recently tore into the residents of the city who are not observing the social distancing guidelines in a forceful manner. She particularly targeted those who continue to participate in large social gatherings.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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