Candidates Speak; Highlights from the Mayoral Campaign Stance

Early voting for the upcoming New Orleans mayoral election is Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2017, and the primary is Saturday, Oct. 14. It is important for voters to have facts and understand each candidate’s platform. The Xavier Herald had the opportunity to sit down with three of the 18 candidates running for the office.

The Herald attempted repeatedly via telephone calls and emails to set up interviews with two candidates considered among the top five contenders, Desiree Charbonnet and Michael Bagneris; neither responded. Candidates LaToya Cantrell, Hashim Walters and Troy Henry agreed to interviews.

Why do you think college students should vote for you?

L.C. : I have been pushing and getting results in areas for affordable housing, education, economic development, job creation, health, and health disparities. I’ve been in the trenches and at the forefront of these issues for the city of New Orleans, so I would say they should vote for me because they’ll be voting for someone who will need no training wheels come May of 2018. I have government experience, municipal experience, and I know how to get results in our city, and I’ve demonstrated that [as a current New Orleans City Councilperson]. My opponents have no experience with municipal government at all nor a demonstrated track record of getting results that impact the quality of life of people.

How do you feel about the actions President Donald Trump has taken excluding the transgender community from the military?
L.C. : I thought it was extremely offensive. Being the person who spearheaded New Orleans being a welcoming city for our immigrant community and our LGBT community, I made sure that it became a priority for our current mayor that New Orleans is welcoming. [We have] real policies that dealt with community policing practices, economic development opportunities, language access barriers, as well as proper training – sensitivity training that needs to happen when you’re talking about our LGBT community.

You and Desiree Charbonnet have the potential to become the first female African-American mayor of New Orleans. How do you feel and how does that influence your approach to this election?
L.C. :  I’m not running for mayor to be the first of anything. I’m running for mayor to be the best mayor that this city needs. What needs to be historic in this city is that everybody has the opportunity for real growth here. We’re about to be 300 years old, so, I think, yes, it’s about time – 300 years – for you to get a woman, but, at the same time, I believe it’s about time we start taking care of the people who are the backbone of this city; about time that we ensure that women and children can thrive here. Right now, they’re leading in this city living in poverty – at or below – and that’s a problem for me, being a woman, absolutely, and a mom.

What do you think is the future of New Orleans?
L.C. : The future for me is making sure that we address the issues that have caused people to live in poverty for generations, providing them with real access to opportunity and growth and education – meeting them where they are. I think that has to be a priority in order to elevate them and keep them growing, so that they can reach their full potential in our city. If we do that and focus where the needs are the greatest and give people real opportunity, then eventually New Orleans will be a place that thrives for every person who is here.


Why do you think college students should vote for you?
T.H.: I am uniquely qualified for the job. I am the only candidate running that has actually managed over 40 people ever in their career. I am the only one that has ever hired an executive. I am the only one that has actually managed operations and a budget of over $20 million dollars. I’m the only one that has actually managed union organizations, the only one that’s actually migrated jobs to the area. I’m the only one that has delivered municipal services, and I’ve done it for multiple cities throughout the country. I designed an energy efficiency program that the city of New Orleans now uses.

What do you feel the city is not spending enough of its resources on?
T.H.: It’s not spending any money on growing. What you need and what college students want is a growing city that will have thriving economic opportunities for them, so when they leave school, they have jobs here if they want to stay here in New Orleans. Today, they have to go somewhere else, make a commitment to be underpaid or unemployed. I want to change that. I’ll call on two-hundred of the Fortune 1000 companies in my first four years in office. I expect an 8%-10% success ratio that would equate to about 40,000 new jobs in the city of New Orleans.

How do you feel about the actions President Trump has taken excluding transgender soldiers from the military?
I’m not a fan of discrimination in any way, shape, or form. Excluding or isolating somebody because of their sexual orientation is, to me, wrong.

How do you plan to address crime in the city?
T.H.: Poverty, I believe, is the root cause of crime today. Poverty begets hopelessness; hopelessness begets criminal activity. Adding 40,000 new jobs helps address the poverty situation. We will have more people with a living wage. Today, the African-American community has almost 40% of its population living below the poverty line. That’s just an unacceptable level of poverty. We need to provide better services for folks that are addicted to opioids. A lot of our smash-and-grab kind of crimes are because people need a fix. We need to make sure places like Odyssey House have sufficient funding. The second piece of the tactical approach is mental health. Jailing them is not the solution; we need to get them actual help. We have to fix our police department. Every police officer will do one patrol a week. We will have more officers in our neighborhoods.

Why do you think college students should vote for you?
H.W.: They are not just voting for me; they are voting for a movement. I think we have to realize that this is the time for our generation to step up to the plate and really change the world. Tupac said that ‘I will spark the brain that will change the world.’ I realize that he was talking about our generation. More than anything, it’s younger people that tend to bring the world together. I have some plans for New Orleans that are going to be innovative, and I’m just a regular everyday citizen. I go through what people go through. I’ve been there. I’ve lost friends to gun violence. I’ve been a college student just three months ago. I know how it is to be in that struggle – to want to have your voice heard and wanting to make your mark in the world while still finding yourself. I would love to be a representative for our generation. If I get elected, everyone in the city of New Orleans gets elected. I’m a man of the people. I would put everything on the line – my life on the line for this city.

What made you decide to run for mayor at such a young age and as an Independent?
H.W.: I believe that New Orleans is ready for something new. I ran as an Independent because I truly believe that both parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, are at odds, and they’re lost right now. Running as an Independent definitely lets people know that I’m a man of the people. I would say I’m a part of the people’s party. If I were to be elected, I would be the people’s mayor. Without a doubt running at 22, I think that’s the best thing to do right here, right now, at this time. It can definitely change the culture of New Orleans for some years to come.


How do you feel about the actions President Trump has taken excluding transgender soldiers from the military?
H.W.: That is absolutely ridiculous. It made me mad because it doesn’t matter what, everyone has human rights. For him to remove someone for who they are, from the military, that infuriated me. Everyone deserves a right to join the military. Everyone deserves to have human rights. We should hold him accountable for the things that he says. We have to hold him accountable for the way he addresses his constituents. He sets the tone for America.

How do you plan to address crime in the city?
H.W.: Crime happens because there is an influx in poverty in our communities, and we don’t have the proper educational resources. If you don’t fix those two things, you will continue to have crime. Most of the crimes committed in the city are by young African-American men, and it’s because they are unemployed: 44% of all African-American men in the city are unemployed. The education system is broken, we need to make sure they have access to real education. to the school board to get those vo-tech programs back, those job training programs back in the high schools. Not everybody is going to go to college. Also, creating a job industry. Once you get the people trained, the businesses will come.

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