Latoya Cantrell elected first female mayor of New Orleans in historic win

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans voters have elected City Councilwoman Latoya Cantrell as the city's first female black mayor.

Cantrell defeated former Judge Desiree Charbonnet.

"This has been the people’s campaign from Day 1," Cantrell said Saturday night. "We are no longer about the haves and the have-nots. This win is not for me and my family. This win is for the city of New Orleans. We have work to do, and we are going to do it together. That’s the only way."

Cantrell said she spoke to Charbonnet before giving her victory speech and congratulated her on a hard-fought race.

It was an ugly runoff race that stemmed from an initial crowded field of 18 candidates vying to replace two-term Mayor Mitch Landrieu, with campaigns slinging accusations of improper spending while in office and cronyism and corruption.

Charbonnet's campaign released documents showing that Cantrell used a city-issued credit card for personal expenses, then later repaid those expenses with campaign money or money from her personal account. Cantrell's campaign tried to paint Charbonnet as a bought and paid for candidate with deep ties to big money and corrupt politicians.

Charbonnet said in her concession speech that she's ready to support Cantrell as mayor.

"I tell you something, it has been a journey. It has been a ride," Charbonnet said in her concession speech Saturday night. "It’s been momentous. I truly do not regret one moment of this campaign. I am so proud to have been in this race. Congratulations to Latoya Cantrell. If she does well, we all do well."

Michael Bagneris, who came in third in the primary mayoral race, quickly endorsed Cantrell after the primary. He spoke to WGNO Saturday night from Cantrell's election party.

"When you're on the campaign trail you get to know your opponents very well," Bagneris said. "It was clear to me at the very outset that Latoya was a people person, that she was going to deal with whatever the community needs to have happen. And that's what she's going to do as mayor, ensure that people are always put first."

Cantrell grew up in Los Angeles and moved to New Orleans in 1990 to attend Xavier University. She got her start in local politics after Hurricane Katrina, when she led the Broadmoor Improvement Association.

She's been on the City Council since 2012.

She's widely known for spearheading the movement to ban smoking in New Orleans bars and casinos.

Cantrell is married to New Orleans attorney Jason Cantrell.

She takes office in May of 2018.

"Tonight, it’s about moving forward together, with a real vision," Cantrell said. "We will ensure that our people have hope … have protection … and opportunity ... I will not let you down."

Watch video from Charbonnet's concession speech below: