The effort to recall New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, the first Black woman to lead the city has failed, according to the Associated Press, following an official count of petition signatures on Tuesday.
Although the petition sheets, which the Louisiana governor’s office released, contained over 67,000 signatures, the registrar ruled that most were invalid. According to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, there were 27,243 valid signatures, about 18,000 short of the number required for a referendum.
“My administration has always remained focused on addressing the real pressing issues that face our city,” Cantrell said in a statement to Louisiana news channel WAFB-TV. “Now, with the divisiveness of the failed recall campaign officially behind us, we must heal and recommit ourselves to working collaboratively to continue the progress we’ve made towards reducing crime, increasing public safety, building a more sustainable and resilient city and creating economic and job opportunities that benefit all of our people,” she added.
The number of signatures required to force the recall has been debated in court, according to the AP. Recall organizers sued officials, who claimed that the rolls were inflated with hundreds of dead people and thousands of people who had moved away.
A lawsuit settlement agreement from early March drastically reduced the number of signatures required for a recall election. Later it was discovered that the judge who granted the modification had also signed the petition for Mayor Cantrell’s recall.
“The recall campaign has been divisive, dishonest, and opaque, to say the least. It’s time for New Orleanians to better our city in the way we do best – by coming together,” said Cantrell’s campaign manager Maggie Carroll in a written statement to the AP.
Recall efforts against Cantrell began last August, less than a year after she started her second term in office in 2021.
Since then, the AP reports she has faced numerous problems, “including violent crime, fitful progress on major street projects and unreliable garbage collection. Questions also have been raised about her travel expenses and her personal use of a city-owned apartment. The City Council recently opened an investigation into the use of public money to send a mailer to city residents earlier this year touting Cantrell’s accomplishments.”
Mayor LaToya Cantrell has repeatedly characterized the recall effort as a Republican-led attack on a Black, Democratic administration.