Recall petition filed against Mayor of New Orleans

Source: Hot Air

The Louisiana Secretary of State confirmed that a recall petition was officially filed on Friday against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. The city is experiencing a spike in violent crime and Mayor Cantrell’s time in office has been filled with controversy.

A petition was filed by a community activist and perpetual candidate for office, and the mayor’s former social media manager. The activist ran a long-shot campaign against Cantrell in November and now he’s filing the recall petition with Eileen Carter, a staffer who helped manage the Cantrell administration’s social media presence for three years. She is also the sister of former Louisiana state Senator Karen Carter Peterson. Peterson recently resigned from office and is under federal investigation for illegally using the state Democrat Party’s funds (she is the former state chair of the state party). Peterson suffers from a gambling addiction.

The likelihood that this petition will succeed is slim to none. Cantrell received 60% of the vote when she was elected as mayor. Carter and Batiste (the activist) filed the petition without any funding for a recall petition campaign or any organizational structure in place. That does not sound as though they are off to a good start.

The petition, which asserts that Cantrell has shown a “failure to put New Orleans first and execute the responsibilities of the position,” starts a 180-day countdown for Batiste and Carter to secure tens of thousands of signatures that would be needed to hold a recall referendum.

During a news conference at City Hall on Friday, Carter said they have no funding or campaign organization in place. Instead, she said they are planning a “grassroots” approach and will announce additional plans after Labor Day.

Can a political activist and a disgruntled city hall staffer clear the hurdles of a formal recall petition effort? There are specific requirements that must be met within a specific timeframe.

Louisiana sets a high bar in front of anyone trying to remove an elected official from office. The recall effort would need to garner signatures from 20% of qualified electors — or people eligible to vote — in Orleans Parish within 180 days to trigger a referendum on removing Cantrell from office.

There are 266,000 registered voters in Orleans Parish, according to the registrar of voters. That likely means organizers need about 53,200 signatures.

Successful recall petition efforts are rare, mostly because of the high number of signatures required. Since 2014, there have been six recall efforts in smaller towns or parishes in Louisiana. Only two succeeded, with one other official resigning before the election could be held.

New Orleans residents are angry about the violent crime ravaging the city, the mayor’s extravagant overseas travel at taxpayers’ expense, and the mayor’s support of a youthful offender in court. The grievances are adding up. About a week ago the mayor made headlines for her threat of canceling Mardi Gras because of a shortage of police officers and then had to quickly backtrack on that threat. Mayor Cantrell also recently told New Orleans East residents that Target had purchased a vacant lot with plans to build a store there. A Target spokesperson denied that alleged purchase and said there are no such plans.

Last week the mayor found herself once again defending her actions to the press. She called a press conference to answer criticism for her surprise appearance at the sentencing of a teenager charged with carjacking. She defended him in court, not the victim of the carjacking. She defended him, she said, because the teenager is a part of her Pathways Youth Internship Program. Cantrell advises at-risk youth in the program. She didn’t let the District Attorney know ahead of time that she would appear in court to speak up for the teen. Needless to say, it caught him off guard, as well as the victims of the crime.

If the signatures are collected, the recall goes to the Registrar of Voters in New Orleans. Then Governor John Bel Edwards would have to call a special election. Cantrell would have a chance to appeal the recall.

The mayor’s spokesperson released a brief statement. One local political expert notes the current environment in the city.

“The mayor is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to solve the problems of the city,” director of the Mayor’s Office of Communications, Gregory Joseph, said.

“Whether it is public safety, sanitation, development. This mayor cares about every person in the city and lifting the city. This is a world-class city, and we are going to keep on striving to make it the best possible that’s what she’s going to continue to do,” Joseph said.

“This is a very fragile political and social environment,” WDSU political expert Dr. Silas Lee said. “In my 30 years of public opinion research, I’ve never seen such a level of fragility among voters. Keep in mind that there is chatter but where is the chatter coming from? Are they registered in New Orleans? To have a successful recall you need infrastructure organization just like a campaign you need resources money technology and people. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Talk of corruption and street crime in New Orleans is nothing new. But, residents are facing the added burdens of a spike in violent crime and a mayor who apparently sided with a criminal over victims of the crime in court. That is unacceptable. Police morale is down in New Orleans and many officers are choosing to retire instead of continuing to work. The mayor isn’t showing the support the police need by her surprise visit to that courtroom.