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Platform Breakdown: LaToya Cantrell vs. Desiree Charbonnet

Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell and former Municipal Court Judge Desiree Charbonnet are vying to become the first female Mayor of New Orleans. It's high time, as over half of the Crescent City's population is female (51.6 percent according to the 2010 Census). Of the 18 contenders in the mayoral race, if either of these two leading candidates win it will be a landmark victory for the city. But their approaches to how they would take over New Orleans' highest office are very different. Read on for an in-depth breakdown of their different platforms. 





LaToya Cantrell Desiree Charbonnet
Cantrell has made her presence known as a community leader for over a decade. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she relocated to New Orleans to attend Xavier University. 

Born and raised in New Orleans, Charbonnet has a 20-year-long history of winning in New Orleans elections.

She headed the Broadmoor Improvement Effort after Hurricane Katrina. 

She is a former Municipal Court Judge who recently relinquished a clear path to a seat of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to run for mayor.

Later became a strong City Councilmember best known for spearheading the (in)famous smoking ban.

Currently works for the esteemed law firm Sullivan Stolier Schulze & Grubb, LLC. 





LaToya Cantrell Desiree Charbonnet
Often touches on reducing inequities hinting that she supports affordable housing programs that relocate the impoverished to higher opportunity neighborhoods. Plans to cut $10.25 million from affordable housing and economic development initiatives to increase funding for NOPD and law enforcement measures. 
Has yet to introduce any specific policy measures (other than using $6.6 million from the Neighborhood Housing Improvement Fund to continue support for affordable housing programs), instead using broad strokes and generalizations that are more centered on creating opportunity than reprimanding unruly citizens. These include:
- Selling blighted properties to those who can sell them quickly
- Providing property tax relief to struggling families
- Supporting policies to create more housing 
The bulk of her campaign financing was donated on behalf of contractors, so it appears unlikely that she would support regulations like the City Planning Commission, which enforces "mandatory inclusionary zoning" where developers of multi-family complexes are required to reserve 10-12 percent of units for those earning at least ~30 percent below the average neighborhood income (where renters also pay ~30 percent less. 

Has been influential in oppsing enforcement of the Historic District Landmark Commission.






LaToya Cantrell Desiree Charbonnet
Has been quoted as saying, "nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Plans on cutting $10.25 million from the economic development and affordable housing budget to add ~100 new officers a year to NOPD, with a goal of replenishing NOPD staff from 1,200 officers to 1,500.

Plans on removing the city’s controversial traffic cameras which contribute to 2 percent of the city’s overstretched budget.


Plans on creating 2-person rapid response units with a five minute response time.

Has yet to propose a specific strategy or plan, instead offering general critiques of the NOPD, stating the department needs to be "replenished" and "revamped."  Plans to cut monitors that ensure NOPD is adhering to its federal consent decree which is designed to mitigate racial profiling, instead relying on self-monitoring.
Plans to appoint a police chief who "has proven success in community policing."  Wants to undertake a national search for a police chief to replace the Landrieu-appointed Michael S. Harrison. (Despite often contradictory data, it is clear that Harrison improved NOPD effectiveness by doing more with fewer resources.)





LaToya Cantrell Desiree Charbonnet
Has received $151,306 in contributions, a large amount from New York and Los Angeles. Her campaign disclosure form is rife with $5,000 contributions (the manximum campaign contribution) on behalf of those at war with policies that ensure housing is affordable and neighborhoods are equitable—contractors and developers. All in all, she has received $869,035. 
Owes $28,000 to the IRS. She claims that this is because payments made in the process of rebuilding her home post-Katrina were not sent from her bank to the IRS.   
She has come under flak from the city planning commision for taking the side of Sydney Torres and other real estate developers, rather than those needy renters determined to receive affordable housing benefits.   



No political candidate can be perfect, but as Cantrell and Charbonnet are in the unique positions of being the first two prominent black women to run for the Mayor of New Orleans, all eyes are on them as they campaign for the Crescent City's highest office. 


Their policy stances may be less progressive than that of Mitch Landrieu, whose political legacy was borne out of the mayoral efforts of his father to politically desegregate New Orleans. In this present climate, New Orleanians have the unique opportunity to craft their future between now and October by reflecting their concerns unto their potential mayoral candidates.


Crime and affordable housing are likely to dominate the political playing field, and this election will be made even more interesting with specific budget allocations flexible enough to be funded from affordable housing programs to support increased law enforcement and vice-versa.


Keep an eye on NoDef for ongoing coverage on the mayoral election. 

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