Organizers: 15K signatures needed in final month to trigger Mayor Cantrell recall vote

Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 2:14 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Community organizers and residents gathered along North Claiborne Avenue on Sunday (Jan. 22) to announce a final push in their effort to trigger a recall vote for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

Standing in front of a custom-painted bus with the slogan “NOLATOYA” on its side, coalition leaders said they still need roughly 15,000 registered voters’ signatures to reach the required threshold of around 54,000 that would prompt a recall election.

The petition was filed in Baton Rouge last August by community organizer Belden Batiste and Cantrell’s former social media manager Eileen Carter, who say the mayor’s performance has been substandard.

“The biggest thing is the crime,” Batiste said. “People being carjacked, people being robbed, people being hurt.”

Carter said, “We have one month to decide the fate of New Orleans. Three more years (on Cantrell’s second term). Can we live like this for three more years?”

Batiste also called on the Orleans Parish District Attorney to renounce and investigate what he claimed were bullying tactics employed by the mayor and her staff to dissuade people from signing their petition.

“We are calling on the District Attorney Jason Williams to issue a statement, asking the citizens who have been threatened, bullied or intimidated in any way to contact his office,” Batiste said. “Any intimidation by the mayor or underlings is in violation of the law.”

Batiste did not provide evidence of such tactics being employed.

At the same time as her opponents’ news conference in New Orleans, Cantrell was in Washington D.C., appearing on CBS’ Face The Nation on a panel with three other mayors in town for a conference. Moderator Margaret Brennan asked Cantrell if she thought she would survive the recall effort.

“Well, based on what I see, is that the residents of my city definitely appreciate continuity in leadership,” Cantrell said. “And so, with that, that speaks to keeping progress moving and alive, under my leadership. ... Continuity in leadership is what I’m seeing by my people.”

Carter said that she and others have voters’ remorse after seeing New Orleans’ rising crime and other controversies involving Cantrell, who is under federal investigation for possible campaign fund spending, her use of a city-owned apartment and for an alleged extramarital relationship with a subordinate from the NOPD.

“I think it’s extremely disrespectful and disingenuous, " Carter said of Cantrell’s trip to the United States Conference of Mayors meeting in the nation’s capital. “How can you say you’re the mayor of this city and you’re not even here?”

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