Nearly 2,100 sign Mayor Cantrell recall petition Monday in Lakeview, organizers say

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 11:01 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Organizers of the effort to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said they’ve reached nearly 3,000 signatures after just three days, with roughly 2,100 registered voters signing the petition Monday night at an event held in Lakeview.

The pop-up signing event at the corner of Allen Toussaint and West End boulevards originally was scheduled to run from 5-8 p.m. But organizers said late Monday that demand was so high, they had to print more signature sheets after running out, with crowds lined up well into the evening.

“I’m glad to see everyone coming together. It’s not about Democrat or Republican, it’s about the City of New Orleans and the people,” said organizer Shannon Assaf. “New Orleans deserves better leadership, for sure.”

According to state law, organizers have 180 days -- in this case, until Feb. 22, 2023 -- to collect around 53,500 signatures, or around 20 percent of registered voters in Orleans Parish.

“I’m a New Orleans resident, and I’m sick and tired of the crime,” said Lane Buonagura. “I work on the West Bank. On the way to work, watching people on the interstate -- with my kid in the car -- holding guns out the window. Enough is enough.”

The petition was filed in Baton Rouge by Eileen Carter and Beldon “Noonie Man” Batiste, a former mayoral candidate and frequent City Hall and City Council visitor.

According to a March 2021 social media post from the Mayor’s Office, Carter formerly worked as a social media manager for the City of New Orleans.

“New Orleanians have allowed themselves to be taken advantage of by wildly abusive people,” said Elizabeth Schindler. “I think that the cycle of abuse needs to end, right here and right now.”

Sidney Smith said, “I’ve lived here 68 years. I was born here, I was raised here. If I didn’t have a home that I love and a business that I love, I’d be out of here.”

Several people in line said they were most fed up with the city’s crime, and Cantrell’s recent support of a carjacker in juvenile court was the tipping point for many.

“As soon as she walked into that courtroom, she took sides,” said Lady Daboval. “You don’t take sides when it comes to that matter. You just bow out and you tell the family, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do this.’”

“I wish it wouldn’t have come to this (recall effort),” said Sheila Simmons. “She shouldn’t have done that, because that was a victim on the other side as well. It was two sides.”

Political analyst Dr. Robert Collins, a public policy professor at Dillard University, said the recall effort would be a heavy lift unless it finds significant backing from the local business and political communities.

“For this to be successful and for this to be organized, it’s going to need funding,” Collins said. “Members of the business community, members of the corporate community would have to step forward. They would have to put up funding. It would have to be a professional effort. They would have to hire a campaign manager.”

If the recall petition garners the requisite number of signatures, it would trigger a special election called by Gov. John Bel Edwards. Voters would be asked to vote up or down on whether to recall Cantrell, with a simple majority needed to remove her from office.

If the mayor was recalled, the New Orleans City Council would choose one of its at-large members -- Helena Moreno or J.P. Morrell -- to serve as interim mayor. The interim appointee could serve for up to one year before a special election would be called to elect a new mayor, Collins said.

The interim mayor would be allowed to run for mayor in that special election.

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