Mayor-elect Cantrell unveils transition team advisory board

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - On the campus of Xavier University, Mayor-Elect Latoya Cantrell showed off members of her new advisory board for her transition team.

Cantrell also said that former Xavier President Norman Francis, former Aspen Institute CEO and ex-CNN executive Walter Isaacson, and Gail Benson, wife of Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, are serving as honorary co-chairs of her transition.

Cantrell said after the announcement that she wants to name her chief administrative officer by the time she is sworn in as the city's first female mayor in May.

"That, of course, will be a search that has to happen prior to May 7th," Cantrell said.

She said another top priority is righting the ship at the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board. She plans to hire a new executive director for the agency.

"The Sewerage and Water Board is on fire and we have to put that fire out, and we will do so collectively and in the spirit of ensuring that we have infrastructure that all of our residents can depend on," said Cantrell.

In terms of the promised national and local search for the police chief, Cantrell said there will be a transition committee that is focused solely on the NOPD, and it will make recommendations on candidates. But during media questions, Cantrell allowed that the timetable for choosing the chief is not cemented.

"It can come even before taking office, it could come right at May 7th, or it can come even at the start of 2019. But I'm not top-down, I'm truly bottom-up. I am engaging people for a reason, meaning that I look at their core competencies and their skill sets," she said.

And Cantrell's camp did not have an answer to the question of whether current NOPD Chief Michael Harrison would be asked to stay on if search process goes on beyond the time the current mayor, Mitch Landrieu, leaves office.

"It is a position I want to keep, and I've made that known," Harrison just hours before Cantrell's press event.

He said he is willing to go through whatever selection process the incoming mayor puts in place.

"We did meet for a crime briefing the week before the election," Harrison said. "That came up, so she is aware, but I do understand that there is a process and I'm happy when the time presents itself to participate in that process. Right now it is my entire focus. One hundred percent of my focus and energy is making sure that we provide public safety to the citizens and visitors of New Orleans right now until the end of this administration."

Cantrell's transition spokeswoman said the advisory board members will oversee various committees.

An announcement about the transition plan and committee members is expected next week.

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