NEW ORLEANS (AP) — LaToya Cantrell takes the oath of office Monday as New Orleans’ new mayor, the first woman to hold the job in the city’s 300-year history.
Cantrell leaves behind a City Council post she won in 2012. Before that, she was a neighborhood activist in the city’s Broadmoor area, which was among those hit hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She was elected in November.
Inauguration ceremonies on Monday give her a chance to set the tone for her administration as she faces challenges including an aging drainage system and stubborn violent crime.
Inauguration day activities included a service at the historic St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter, her swearing-in at the Mahalia Jackson Theater, and a New Orleans “second-line” parade to an outdoor reception at Louis Armstrong Park. Evening events include a reception for veterans at the National World War II Museum followed by the inaugural ball at Mardi Gras World, a venue on the Mississippi River where iconic Carnival season floats are stored.
Cantrell also is dealing with an investigation of city finances. The probe by Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry began after Cantrell’s runoff opponent in November accused her of misusing her City Council credit card. The allegations didn’t stop her from winning 60 percent of the vote over Desiree Charbonnet, a member of a powerful New Orleans political family.
Landry says his probe is continuing.
A statement from Cantrell communications director Beau Tidwell says that “contrary to what Landry’s statement insinuates, the findings of his staff completely exonerate Mayor-elect Cantrell.”