A woman, LaToya Cantrell, was elected mayor of New Orleans, a first in 300 years of history of the Louisiana metropolis devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Winner of a women’s duel, 45-year-old Cantrell won the day with 60% of the vote against Desiree Charbonnet, a former judge in Saturday’s election. She succeeds Mitch Landrieu, who could not run for mayor after two terms.
She will officially take office as 51st mayor in May 2018 amidst the 300th-anniversary celebrations of the former French colonial capital.
LaToya Cantrell joins the very small club of women at the head of big American cities. According to a study from the University of New Jersey, only 19% of agglomerations with more than 300,000 inhabitants had a woman as mayor in 2016.
A city councilor since 2012, she has promised to “lead with integrity” her mandate at the head of the city, known for its Mardi Gras parade, its spicy cuisine, and its jazz boxes. She had focused her campaign on the “two truths” of the city where flourishing tourism and successful infrastructure reconstruction have not solved her problems of poverty and delinquency.
The mayor of the time, Ray Nagin, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for bribery and money laundering.