Ray Nagin was the unlikely politician - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Ray Nagin was the unlikely politician, going from boardroom to the mayor’s office

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

The fact that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was even elected shows how much New Orleans wanted someone different.  He came into politics from corporate America with no experience in government.

Nagin was born and raised in New Orleans, but he was hardly a household name when he entered the mayor's race in late 2001.

At the time, he was running COX Cable in south Louisiana. COX is one of the largest cable companies in the country.  There, Nagin managed about a 1,000 employees and had a $200 million budget.

"The thing with managing any large organization is you're managing resources and people and that's one of the things I do well," Nagin said as he campaigned.

Four years earlier, he helped bring minor league hockey to New Orleans. Nagin was co-owner and president of the New Orleans Brass.

When Nagin decided to transition from businessman to politician, he promised a business approach to city government.  He even pledged to reform how personal services contracts were awarded.

"So, if you're going give me a campaign contribution and you're expecting a contract, you're wasting your money," Nagin said.

On March 2, 2002, the married father of three, a long shot in the race, became the 60th mayor of New Orleans.  Barely a month into the job, he was showing off his alleged crackdown on corruption as dozens were arrested and paraded before news cameras.  Even though most of those charges were refused, a year into his first term, Nagin's approval rating was sky-high.

More than two years later, Hurricane Katrina would change everything.

Nagin blasted the federal government's response.  But he too was under fire for this comment on Martin Luther King Day in 2006 about rebuilding New Orleans.

"This city will be chocolate at the end of the day, this city will be a majority African-American city," Nagin said.  "It's the way God wants it to be."

Displaced New Orleanians were beyond frustrated.

Despite a slow rebuilding process, voters would elect Nagin to a second term in 2006.  He edged out current Mayor Mitch Landrieu 52 to 48 percent in a runoff.

By 2008, the former mayor's approval rating had plummeted to 31-percent.  It would drop even lower in 2009 to 24-percent.  Tired and term limited out, he left office May 3, 2010.

By 2011, Nagin had formed CRN Initiatives LLC.  As a consultant, public speaker and recovery expert, he travels the world to give advice on emergency preparedness.

"Everyone in leadership could have done things better, including myself," Nagin conceded.

He also self-published his first book ‘Katrina Secrets, Storms After the Storm.'

"I don't know where the book is going to fit in the analysis of history.  All I'm trying to do is give people a different perspective," Nagin said.

All while federal prosecutors write their own piece of history and one more chapter in Nagin's life.

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