LaToya Cantrell can now count herself among the growing number of history-making Black mayors across the country. She was just elected as New Orleans first woman mayor in the city’s 300-year history, which brings together her years-long efforts to bring help and revitalize the city.

Cantrell was born in Los Angles, California on April 3, 1972. She moved to Louisiana to attend Xavier University,  graduating with a degree in sociology. After her graduation from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, she returned to New Orleans, settling in the Broadmoor neighborhood. When her neighborhood was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, Cantrell became the president of the Broadmoor association and led recovery efforts.

Earning a name as a dedicated resident and active participant in improving conditions in the wake of the massive storm, Cantrell decided to throw her hat in the political ring in 2012 and was elected to the New Orleans City Council. There, she continued her tireless efforts to improve the city, including addressing homelessness and other concerns.

As a result of those efforts, Cantrell was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the presidents of Tulane, Loyola and Xavier universities and the University of New Orleans in 2016.

She entered the mayoral race in March, enjoying widespread support as she took on fellow Democrat Desiree Charbonnet. She won the election this past Saturday (Nov. 18) with 60 percent of the vote.

Cantrell will be sworn in as mayor in May 2018 as the city of New Orleans will be celebrating its 300th anniversary.


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