Organizers seeking to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell from office said they collected enough signatures to put the city leader’s second term at risk.
"Right now our mayor doesn’t love New Orleans so the citizens and the residents stood up," Eileen Carter, vice chair of the No LaToya recall campaign, told Fox News. "We’re taking our city back, and we’re gonna save New Orleans."
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The campaign's chairman, Belden Baptiste, and Carter launched the recall effort to remove Cantrell from office in August 2022. The organizers handed the petition filled with signatures to the Orleans Parish Registrar of Voters office on Wednesday. The Feb. 22 deadline required them to hand in around 50,000 signatures, which the organizers say they exceeded.
"Mayor LaToya, it ain't that we hate you," Baptiste told Fox News. "You didn't do your job, and you're about to be fired."
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Carter, who worked in the mayor’s social media department for three years, told Fox News it was difficult to watch Cantrell "quiet quit" in her second term. The mayor's public calendar used to have regular meetings with department heads, but she hadn't had any on her schedule in over a year as of November, according to a local Fox affiliate's review of public records.
"It's like a tale of two mayors," Carter said. "I don't think she's making very good judgment decisions for the city at all, to the point of arrogance."
During a Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 19, Cantrell was caught flipping off parade participants. The mayor's communications director, Gregory Joseph, told local Fox outlet WVUE that it was intended to be playful.
"Putting your middle finger to residents isn't necessarily going to get you cheers during a recall election," Carter told Fox News.
Meanwhile, Carter said the city has many problems, including the crime surge that briefly made the city the nation’s murder capital for most homicides per capita before being unseated by Jackson, Mississippi, at the end of 2022.
"We’re like Gotham down here," Carter said. "It’s sad to say, but that’s kind of what people are calling us, and we’re calling ourselves that."
New Orleans recorded 266 homicides in 2022 — a 116% increase from 2019, according to the New Orleans City Council crime database. Carjackings rose by 165% in the two-year period.
"People are fearful," Carter said. "This administration hasn't risen to the occasion that we need right now. Quality of life standards are just diminishing."
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Carter said many streets are filled with potholes, and buildings are riddled with busted windows. A few New Orleans residents that spoke to Fox News also supported the recall effort.
"The mayor has stopped working," Sally, a longtime New Orleans resident, said. "She’s a smart woman, and she’s capable, but she’s just flat out stopped working."
Babs, also of the Big Easy, said many of her friends are afraid to sign the petition in fear of retaliation.
"Cantrell will be bitter. She will go after people," Babs said. "They don’t want retribution against them, but they will vote for it when it goes to an election."
But Carter told Fox News retaliation has already happened, accusing the mayor's office of blocking the recall campaign's ability to host an event at a local restaurant. The restaurant owner said he received a call from his landlord telling him to cancel the event, which he did, but was then slapped with a restraining order that claimed he violated his lease the next day.
The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.
"We have an administration of intimidation and fear tactics," Carter told Fox News. "They will take your job. They will take your livelihood."
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"We’re tired of living under that oppression," Carter said.
A spokesperson for the mayor previously labeled the recall campaign a "Republican-backed maneuver by people with an agenda" to "undermine and discredit the first Black woman mayor of New Orleans."
"Their narrative is what is playing across America. It's the easiest one. It's the race card," Carter said. "She's a Black woman. I'm a Black woman too. I live in the city. I want to be safe."
Carter said the recall effort recruited supporters across the political spectrum.
"When you focus on common ground, you get things done," Carter said. "We're showing the difference of how government can work for the people with the people."
"New Orleanians, we are pretty resilient and honestly, we're tired of being resilient," Carter said. "We want to thrive, and we deserve that."
State law allows 20 days for the voter's office to verify the signatures and declare next steps. Organizers are confident the recall will get approved by the governor for a special election.
To hear more on the New Orleans' mayor recall effort, click here.