Voters In New Orleans Give Mayor Mitch Landrieu 2nd Term

fromWWNO

Over the weekend, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu won a triumphant re-election victory. Even with the major progress New Orleans has made since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, there are plenty of challenges for Landrieu to tackle in a second term, including high rates of unemployment and crime.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Over the weekend New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu celebrated a big reelection victory. In triumph, the mayor reflected on the city's recovery from Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

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MAYOR MITCH LANDRIEU: We got up. We dusted ourselves off. We took that first step. And then we took another. We pressed on and we as a people have come back strong.

MONTAGNE: Still, there are plenty of problems facing Landrieu in his second term - among them high unemployment and crime. We're joined now from New Orleans by Eve Troeh of member station WWNO. Good morning.

EVE TROEH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: So this turned out to be rather an easy victory for Mitch Landrieu who is part, of course, of a political dynasty down there in Louisiana. He won almost two-thirds of the vote, didn't he?

TROEH: Yes. Sixty-four percent, I think is the official number. And as you mentioned, he is part of a political dynasty here, a Democratic dynasty. Mitch is, of course, the brother of Senator Mary Landrieu and the son of former mayor Moon Landrieu. And Moon Landrieu was actually the last white mayor that we had in New Orleans before Mitch Landrieu.

An interesting fact of the election is that he - Mitch Landrieu, got more than half of the black vote. And that's interesting because he had two challengers. Both were black male Democrats. One was Michael Bagneris who's a former civil district court judge. He had money behind his campaign and he had some nods of support from groups around the city, but he entered the race very late in the game and he wound up a distant second.

The other challenger was Danatus King who's the president of the local NAACP chapter. And they just didn't have a chance against Mitch Landrieu in this race, it seems. It seems that the citizens of New Orleans have been happy with the progress the mayor has been able to make in the past four years. Then there's also this funny incident of the ice storm we had last week which everyone seemed to think was handled very well and maybe gave him a little boost as well.

MONTAGNE: When you talk about far the city has come, specifically how far has New Orleans improved since Katrina?

TROEH: Well, I would say it's a very different city now in 2014 than it was in 2008, which is when I last lived here. I moved back recently. And there are a few specific accomplishments that the mayor does like to list. The city is at 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population so we're at about 350,000 people. That's been relatively surprising.

The growth has been a little bit faster than people expected and we're actually steadily adding more people to New Orleans. The city's budget is in pretty good shape. Mayor Landrieu touts hiring new cops and doing a better job at law enforcement overall. He's got this big NOLA for Life antiviolence campaign that's one of his centerpieces. And the murder rate has gone down, this year in particular.

We can also see real estate booming in parts of the city. We have lots of new retail here. There's a Costco in Orleans parish which is sort of a bizarre but for many people exciting development. There's lots of office space opening up and there are jobs coming with new hospitals. There's also this petro-chemical boom that's supposed to fuel the whole region in coming years, so here we go.

MONTAGNE: Well, you know, lots of positives, obviously, but of course joblessness and crime still are a problem. But I'm wondering - Landrieu's predecessor Ray Nagin who was in office during Hurricane Katrina, currently on trial - how much are people are paying attention to that down in New Orleans?

TROEH: It's getting a lot of attention for sure. And the problems of the city get a lot of attention as well. Crime, blight, uneven redevelopment, those are things we saw under Ray Nagin and continue to fight today. But I think overall, Nagin seems like something of almost a caricature from the past. He doesn't live here; he lives in a suburb near Dallas. So it would be a lot more painful to go through the Nagin trial if the city didn't really look like it was on a different track now.

MONTAGNE: Eve.

TROEH: If it didn't look like we've done some signs of progress and we're moving forward.

MONTAGNE: Eve Troeh, thanks very much. She's with member station WWNO in New Orleans talking to us about the reelection of Mitch Landrieu. It's NPR News.

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