On the eve of qualifying, four announced candidates speak to FOX 8

New Orleans Mayor race

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Voters choose a new mayor in the fall to occupy the second floor of City Hall. Qualifying begins Wednesday for the race, and ahead of that, four New Orleanians left no doubt that they would be candidates.

Each is adamant about the city's most glaring problem.

"We have to get a hold of the crime problem that's ravaging our city. We have to. Everything else pales in comparison with that," said Michael Bagneris, a former Orleans Civil District Court judge who served in the administration of Mayor Ernest "Dutch" Morial.

"Ensuring public safety is a top priority for the citizens of our city. Our women, our children, our families they don't feel protected, said District B City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell.

"I'm not going to sit on the sidelines and watch the city be plagued by crime any longer," said former Judge Desiree Charbonnet, who stepped down from her seat at Municipal Court to enter the mayoral contest.

"Really personally safety. I've been a victim of crime. Last night my headquarters was broken in to," said businessman Frank Scurlock, who is making his first run for public office.

Bagneris was unsuccessful in trying to unseat Mayor Mitch Landrieu four years ago.

"I am the best qualified individual in this race, you know, my background, my experience, no one has the experience, no one who's announced has the experience that I possess, and I am passionate about trying to resolve the problems that the city is confronted with," Bagneris said.

Cantrell believes her years on the New Orleans City Council have well-equipped her to lead the city.

"I have a demonstrated track record of getting things done. I have experience in governing," Cantrell said.

Charbonnet said she would make the citizens proud if elected to the office of mayor.

"New Orleans needs a strong leader right now, someone who can make tough decisions. I sat on the bench for the last nine and a half years."

Scurlock said he put a half-million of his own money into his campaign.

"I have no desire to be a politician, I'll be the entrepreneurial candidate, and we'll get things jump-started for this city. We'll make New Orleans a very business-friendly city," said Scurlock.

Clerk of Court Art Morrell said his office is prepared for the onslaught of candidates who will qualify this week.  A number of other races will be on the October ballot. Morrell had advice for those who will show up at his office to sign the official documents.

"Please, if you're coming, have the correct sort of funding. It's got to be certified funds, cash, money order or bank check."

Economic development is on each of the announced candidates' radar.

"We need to make sure that our city is a place where everyone can afford to live here and be here and thrive and be connected to real opportunity," Cantrell said.

"We have to diversify, and one major way of diversifying is through manufacturing, we have to have light and intermediate manufacturing here," said Morrell.

"I'm all about creating an economy that's actually diverse, not only on tourism but other industries to compliment it," Scurlock said.

Charbonnet believes the crime crisis is an impediment to attracting new businesses to the city.

"People are not going to move their businesses here if they can't have their children safe in the evening riding their bikes," said Charbonnet.

Businessman Troy Henry told FOX 8 News he is still trying to make up his mind about whether to enter the race.

Another businessman, Sidney Torres, said he has not yet made a decision.

State House Speaker Pro-Tem Walt Leger said he would not enter the race and State Senator J.P. Morrell also has decided not to run.

Qualifying ends Friday.

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