Young voters put myriad questions to mayoral candidates during Tulane forum

The city's two mayoral candidates answered questions before hundreds of university and college students during a forum at Tulane University Tuesday.

Latoya Cantrell or Desiree Charbonnet will become the city's first female mayor. The runoff election is Nov. 18.

Candidates fielded a variety of questions from a panel of students from Tulane, Dillard, Southern and Loyola universities and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. One of the first questions dealt with what the candidates would do to improve the standard of living for all.

"I've got to get businesses here. In order to get the businesses here I've got to be able to sell this city, I've got to be able to sell that this is a place that is safe, so I've got to get crime under control, but what I have to do is sell you guys, the people in this very audience and I think we've fallen short on this," said Charbonnet.

"Storm water management, bio-innovation, digital media platforms, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, we have to play to the strengths. We don't leverage accordingly," Cantrell stated.

There was a question about incentives designed to keep young adults in the city. Some in the audience were eager to hear the candidates answer that question.

"Job incentives for students to like stay in the city after graduation," said Maia Cavell, a student attending Loyola.

"I would work with the business community, the private sector so that they can, in terms of incentivizing, so they can hire our young people at a great and fair wage, but providing an incentive on the front end from the public sector, so that they can have a wage that is commensurate with the skill set that you have to offer," Cantrell said.

Charbonnet said under her administration, City Hall would offer jobs to many graduating from local universities and she would put pressure on the local business community, as well.

"They need to pony up, they need to offer you more jobs, as well. They want to do business with the city, as well. If you want to do business with the city you're going to have to hire some of our young people," said Charbonnet.

Both pledged to tackle the crime problem.

"One of the things that I would like to expand upon is the tactical unit that the New Orleans Police Department did recently put in place, in regards to the armed robberies," said Cantrell.

"My number one priority is reducing crime," said Charbonnet.

"I thought the forum was good, I thought that it was definitely a chance for students from all over the city to voice their concerns," said Smith.

But young voters traditionally do not show up to the polls in large numbers.

"I think the overall turnout is going to be lower than in the primary. Millennials, in particular, they don't turn out at rates as middle-aged and older Americans. We just know this from years and years of turnout research, so it will be important for the campaigns to specifically target these people," said Brian Brox, with Tulane's Department of Political Science.

Both candidates said they will work hard to get young voters to the polls.

Brox added that since it will be a history-making election, that could inspire more millennials to vote in November.

"I think it will.  Many of the young people in this city are from the more liberal, progressive area of politics, we have two democratic candidates, I think also the opportunity to have kind of a progressive and very history making outcome regardless  of who wins will appeal to many of these millennials," said Brox.

"I will definitely vote," said Covell.

"I will vote, I haven't made up my mind, yet," Smith stated.

Both candidates feels good about their chances as the field of candidates is significantly smaller.

"I feel great about the race, listen, this is an entirely new race, it's very easy to get confused about people's issues and where they stand when there's 18 candidates, but when there are two candidates the public then can get a very distinct impression of the two and understand the clear differences between the two," said Charbonnet.

"I believe I definitely have the momentum, both personally as well as just in terms of building, continuing to build because that's what has to happen, we have to unify our city and I'm focusing on that," said Cantrell.

The candidates also said they will work to end the problems at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board.

Both said they are not fans of the city's traffic cameras.

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