NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu touted his successes during his final State of the City address Thursday, but he also conceded there is much work to be done going forward.
Landrieu told a crowd of supporters at the Civic Theater that the two immediate threats to New Orleans are violent crime and climate change.
"In the short term, we are doubling down and we're fighting back aggressively," Landrieu said. "We're further upping overtime in our most affected neighborhoods so there are more cops doing pro-active, aggressive policing targeting drug dealers and violent criminals. We're also beefing up partnerships with other agencies that are already in the fight - from the universities and U.S. Marshalls to the state police and probation and parole."
Landrieu warned about the eroding Louisiana coast and how he believes climate change will affect the city in the future. He said since the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Agreement it is up to cities to take the lead.
"There is no other city in the world that has more at stake than New Orleans. So tomorrow we will release our own Climate Action Strategy, which includes 25 actions that will cut our emissions in half by 2030, while also creating new jobs for the future," he said. "The wetlands that provide New Orleans protection from storms and define our food, culture and economy are disappearing faster than anywhere else in the world. But unfortunately, the debate over coastal restoration has presented false choices. We shouldn't have to choose between our homes our land or our jobs."
Landrieu plans to release the details of his emissions reduction plan at a news conference Friday.
During his speech, Landrieu said his administration is leaving the city in a better position than the one he inherited seven years ago.
"In seven years, we have righted the ship of government, going from a budget deficit to a budget surplus, and the highest credit rating in city history. In 7 years, we led the fight against corruption, opening the doors of opportunity for everyone by completely reforming our city's contracting process. Here is the goal, a level playing field for contracts so that now it is about what you know, not who you know," he said.
Landrieu pointed out the billions of dollars his administration had funneled into public safety, recreation, infrastructure, housing, education and health during his time in office, much of which came from federal funding. But Landrieu also pointed out more leadership at all levels is needed and urged residents to step up.
"There is no doubt that together we can continue to make progress. There are solutions if we have the courage to lead," he said. "If the people of New Orleans want more police, we need less talk and more action. We need our best and bravest in this city to go to joinnopd.com and fill out an application. You need to show up. Step up to the plate and become a police officer. Respond to the call for duty. Your city needs you."
But residents like David Donze who even supported Landrieu during his two terms and attended the speech believe the removal of four Confederate Era monuments will tarnish Landrieu's legacy.
"I'm trying hard to get over it because I think the mayor has done good for the city, but it tends to want to overshadow the good things I feel about the city and the good things I feel about the mayor. To be honest with you, I think the mayor removed the monuments to advance his career at the federal level," Donze said. "To have those monument purposely removed is heartbreaking."
Landrieu spoke about the controversy surrounding the monuments during his speech and called their removal an important step forward.
"All of these major initiatives and projects, some generations in the making are actually happening. We're moving forward," Landrieu said. "The future is ours for the taking. Our best days are ahead of us. Let's get back to work."