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“My soul found its home in New Orleans.”
On May 7, 2018, LaToya Cantrell made history when she became New Orleans’ first woman mayor in the three-century history of the city. Her passion for community, civic engagement and for New Orleans runs deep. Growing up in Los Angeles, her grandmother would take her to neighborhood meetings, and by the age of 13, she was serving as secretary for her local chamber of commerce.
She carried this sense of civic duty to New Orleans when she enrolled at Xavier University and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Though she completed executive management training at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, her heart always remained in New Orleans; she and her husband, Jason Cantrell, a local attorney, settled and became active in the Broadmoor neighborhood. As the President of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, Cantrell led the neighborhood’s redevelopment following Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures. Flooding decimated Broadmoor, but through citizen engagement and Cantrell’s leadership, Broadmoor is now considered an international model for disaster recovery. Elected as a City Councilmember representing District B in 2012, Cantrell focused on three major issues: health, housing and criminal justice. She won unanimous City Council approval of a smoking ban in bars and restaurants – aiding hospitality workers who until then labored under the cloud of second-hand smoke. She also led efforts to open a low-barrier homeless shelter and balanced such criminal-justice efforts as crime cameras, anti-gun-violence and staffing within the New Orleans Police Department.
In November 2017 she successfully won out over a field of 17 other candidates to become Mayor, assuming office on May 7, 2018 – just in time to celebrate the city’s tricentennial, or 300th anniversary. Since becoming Mayor, LaToya Cantrell has focused on three top priorities: public safety, infrastructure, and housing. She has presided over record-low homicide and other violent-crime rates while seeking innovative strategies to address the rising number of system-involved youth. She successfully led the “Fair Share” campaign to secure a historic relocation of tourism-generated tax revenue to improve the city’s crumbling infrastructure and has rapidly sped up a range of infrastructure-related projects. Similarly, she is collaborating with multiple partners to create fair and affordable housing for all New Orleanians.
Mayor Cantrell still lives in Broadmoor with her husband, Jason, and her daughter, RayAnn. They are all parishioners at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church.