New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell faces a possible recall election as violent crime spikes, uncollected trash spills onto the streets and she faces allegations that she had an affair with a member of her crew. security.

Cantrell, the first black woman to be elected mayor in 2018, easily won re-election in 2021. But her popularity has waned as the number of murders has risen, allowing New Orleans to capture a title last year that no municipality wants: the murder capital. of the NATION.

His second term has also been plagued by questions about his personal use of a city-owned apartment in the French Quarter and his relationship with a member of his security detail.

Organizers of an effort to recall Cantrell delivered nearly a dozen boxes of signed petitions to the voter registrar’s office last week, just before the deadline to seek a recall election. Organizers said they had collected enough signatures to force a recall vote.

“We’re talking about our lights, our trash, our streets, our crime, our children,” said Eileen Carter, one of the organizers leading the effort.

With a population of 377,000, 58% black, New Orleans had the most murders per capita in the country in the first half of last year, after a dramatic drop in 2019, according to the NBC affiliate. WDSU from New Orleans.

Homicides in New Orleans had risen about 144% through mid-September 2022, compared to the first nine months of 2019. according to data from the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a nonprofit public safety organization. At the end of the year, a total of 265 homicides had been committed in the city, according to official figures.

“In 2022, we were the murder capital of the nation, how does that happen?” Carter asked.

Cantrell’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Its director of communications recently sent a statement to USA Today which read: “The Mayor continues to work on behalf of the people of New Orleans. The city has just come off a successful and safe Mardi Gras, and crime is down in many important areas. Today and every day, the Mayor remains focused on delivering real results for the people of New Orleans.»

In January, Cantrell announced the formation of a violent crime reduction task force, saying New Orleans was part of a trend taking place in major cities across the country, where violent crime is increasing and the number of officers on the streets is declining due to staff shortages. .

“So far, 2023 has already been faced with a significant increase in violent crime, and now, with adequate resources at our disposal, I cannot think of a better time to establish this task force,” Cantrell said in a statement announcing the unit.

He said that the group of police officers and other public security officials it would be «focused on preventing violent crime in our city» and removing «the most violent criminals from our streets.»

City officials said Cantrell’s office has also taken steps to improve garbage collection with two new contracts and other improvements. Service was disrupted for weeks after Hurricane Ida hit in August 2021, and had already been delayed due to staff shortages during the pandemic.

Cantrell, who is married, also faces allegations that she had an affair with a subordinate. The allegation was contained in a divorce filing filed by the wife of New Orleans police officer Jeffrey Vappie, who is a member of Cantrell’s security detail. In the petition, Vappie’s wife claimed her husband. I was having an affair with Cantrell, according to news outlet

Vappie said through his lawyers last month that he never admitted to his wife that he and the mayor had a relationship, according to An attorney for Vappie did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Cantrell has also faced calls for a investigation about his use of a city-owned apartment, with detractors saying he’s using it for personal gain while it’s only for city business. Cantrell’s office said his use of the apartment is consistent with that of previous mayors.

Recall organizers have not said how many signatures they have collected, but claim they have reached the threshold to force an election. almost 50,000 firms, o 20% of registered voters in Orleans Parish are needed to hold a recall election, but that number could change: recall supporters filed a lawsuit this week alleging that the number of active voters in Orleans Parish it is actually much less than officials suggest and could be for potentially tens of thousands of voters.

The registrar of voters has 20 days to certify the recall petition and forward it to Governor John Bel Edwards. If enough signatures have been collected, Edwards would issue an election proclamation within 15 days.

New Orleans resident WC Johnson, 75, said he initially supported Cantrell when she was a member of the New Orleans City Council, but changed his mind.

“Cantrell is not an administrator, she is not good for the city,” she said. again in order.»

in a quality of life survey 2022 for Orleans and Jefferson parishes conducted by the University of New Orleans, 31% of city residents said they approved of the work Cantrell was doing, while 62% said they were unhappy with his performance.

The survey found that crime had «a profound effect on the overall quality of life in Orleans» and that residents were «very dissatisfied with the quality of life in the city and say the city has become a worse place to live.» in the last five years. .”

Resident Annette Cranford-Hamilton, 60, who supports the recall effort, said she was the victim of a crime last year. when a stray bullet entered their home, “leaving plaster all over my husband” after hitting a wall in the master bedroom.

“I don’t feel safe at all,” she said. “I am afraid to leave my house. I am afraid to drive my car.

“We need someone to care about our city and fix it. It’s broken,» she continued. «It needs some TLC, and I don’t feel like Latoya is doing that. I feel like LaToya Cantrell is out because of LaToya Cantrell and not the people of the city of New Orleans.»

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