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Mayor LaToya Cantrell's campaign calls recall effort 'Republican-backed maneuver'

Cantrell .jpeg
Phoebe Jones / WWNO
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New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. May 2021.

In its first public response, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s political campaign called the formal recall effort launched last week a “Republican-backed maneuver,” according to a statement Tuesday.

An emailed statement from Maggie Carroll, a spokesperson for Cantrell’s mayoral campaign, casts the recall as an effort “to undermine and discredit the first Black woman Mayor of New Orleans” and claims there is “reason to believe a conservative DC firm” is leading it.

Cantrell’s campaign representatives did not respond to a request for comment to give more information. Instead, they sent screenshots of various social media accounts supporting the recall campaign, including tweets from one group that appears to be a local Republican organization.

Two critics of Cantrell — former New Orleans mayoral candidate Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste and Eileen Carter, sister of former Democratic state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson — filed a recall petition with the Secretary of State’s office on Friday, Aug. 26, which claims the mayor has failed “to put New Orleans first and execute the responsibilities of the position.” Belden ran for mayor in 2021 as a Democrat.

In order to trigger a recall election, the petition must garner signatures from 20% of eligible voters in Orleans Parish within 180 days.

There are roughly 266,000 registered voters in Orleans Parish, according to the Registrar of Voters, which means the petition organizers would require about 53,200 signatures.

In recent weeks, Cantrell has been under fire for reports of high travel expenses, with some trips costing tens of thousands of dollars, her administration’s handling of crime and New Orleans Police Department staffing issues. Because of the latter, Cantrell said Mardi Gras could be canceled, but after backlash, went back on her earlier statement.

Cantrell also received criticism after showing up to court to lend support to the family of a teen carjacker — also a former participant in the mayor’s Pathways Youth Internship Program.

Carly Berlin is the New Orleans Reporter for WWNO and WRKF. She focuses on housing, transportation, and city government. Previously, she was the Gulf Coast Correspondent for Southerly, where her work focused on disaster recovery across south Louisiana during two record-breaking hurricane seasons. Much of that reporting centered on the aftermath of Hurricanes Laura and Delta in Lake Charles, and was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.