Landrieu reflects on crime, drainage, progress as he prepares to leave office

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Now that he's leaving the New Orleans mayor's office, Mitch Landrieu says never say never when it comes to national political aspirations.

Landrieu tackled a range of issues Thursday in a one-on-one interview with FOX 8's Rob Masson.

As he sat in a newly renovated Gallier Hall, Landrieu talked about legacy.

"I served 30 years, Mary said I served 34. My father, my sister, Madelyn - we have collectively served the people of Louisiana for 100 years," he said.

Landrieu leaves after eight years and has recently raised his national profile.

Masson: "Would you be opposed to being considered as a Democratic candidate for president.?"

Landrieu: "First of all, I don't intend to seek the presidency. But you never say never."

But while he looks back on what he calls a successful run, there have been challenges, especially when it comes to crime and a decrepit city drainage system.

Masson asked the mayor about last year's flood crisis.

Masson: "Do you wish you had been more focused before Aug. 5th?"

Landrieu: "I have been focused for the last eight years. We have been rebuilding. We generated $2.3 billion in new money."

In spite of that money, Landrieu said sewerage and water system repairs will be a top priority.

"You have an old plant that's older than Calvin Coolidge. That's not just a joke - it was built that long ago," he said.

During his eight years in office, Landrieu made it clear he wanted changes in civil service to make employees more accountable, but he's frustrated he wasn't able to do more.

"Civil service is like any other form of government, left to it's own devises it's slow...and becomes bureaucratic, and it needs to change more fastly," Landrieu said.

Critics have said the removal of four confederate era monuments was a major distraction from city issues... and have accused the mayor of not living up to a promise to restore the sites... and find suitable homes for the monuments.

We asked the mayor, " Some have accused you of punting, what do you say to them?" "  The people who opposed me, will not like anything I do, that was a defining moment in their life, and that's sad," he said.

In spite of flood control, and chronic crime problems, Landrieu says he's leaving the city on a roll.

"It's a lot easier to do business with the city, but it's not where you want it to be, if you want to be leading the country as a 21st century incubator," said Landrieu.

And he says mayor elect Latoya Cantrell, will face many challenges... often unforseen.

"Every mayor will suffer something they don't expect....Katrina, was the biggest of all," said Landrieu.

Landrieu says during his eight years in office, the riverfront, the cbd, and the city procurement process have all been transformed.  He also leaves as construction winds down, on a new billion dollar airport, and 4000 new hotel rooms downtown.

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