New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu has been elected to a second term. In Saturday’s election, the incumbent won 64 percent of the vote making the victory incontestable. The white mayor had support from a large portion of the African-American population due to his policies relating to post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. All candidates were members of the Democratic Party.
Landrieu won re-election following steady growth of New Orleans’s economy over the last several years. Tourism, a key industry in the city, has made a remarkable rebound during Landrieu’s first term. He is viewed as a positive change from the city’s former mayor, Ray Nagin, who left office in 2010 and is currently being charged with purposefully using federal Hurricane Katrina relief funds for personal benefit.
The incumbent was known to have a significant advantage in campaign money. He lacked the political backing of powerful groups, such as the police officers’ union, but had the support of key figures such as President Obama. It is also interesting to note that every New Orleans mayor since the Great Depression era has won a second term. This includes his father, Moon Landrieu, who was mayor of the city 36 years ago. His sister, Mary Landrieu, is a United States Senator from Louisiana.
Landrieu was elected to a second term over Michael Bagneris, a former judge, and Danatus King, president of New Orleans’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The two were critical about the city’s recovery, stating that certain areas of the city were allocated more investment funds than others. They also challenged Landrieu about the high unemployment rate of black men. Both Bagneris and King are prominent members of the city’s African American community, making Landrieu’s re-election in predominantly black New Orleans noteworthy. A University of New Orleans poll concluded that the mayor enjoyed the support of two-thirds of the city’s African Americans.
That same poll noted that he had a 70 percent overall approval rating. This is largely due to his policies relating to rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, but also because the city has seen a substantial drop in the murder rate. Despite this, New Orleans is plagued by crime, and Landrieu’s opponents asserted that he was not doing enough to solve the problem. Bagneris claimed that Landrieu only called attention to the issue and has done little to actually fix it, noting that the New Orleans Police Department has lost 300 officers since Landrieu took office.
In his victory speech, Landrieu stated that “the people of this great city are ready to move forward.” Eight years after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city, leaving 1,500 dead and causing tens of billions in damage, New Orleans is currently undergoing a vibrant economic rebound, aided in large part by the tourism sector. By being elected to a second term, it appears that the people support his policies. Landrieu has so far demonstrated his ability to get the job done when it comes to the post-Katrina recovery, which is an apparent priority to the city’s residents.
By Peter Grazul