Mayor Cantrell delivers a state of the city address, addressing infrastructure, economy and crime

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — Mayor LaToya Cantrell delivered her annual State of the City address Wednesday night and spoke highly of her administration’s progress on infrastructure, economic development and crime in New Orleans.

“Our earnings are healthy, our economy is strong, and we’re investing in our people, all of our people,” Cantrell said.

The mayor opened the speech, speaking about the coronavirus pandemic, paying tribute to citizens who have passed away and praising public servants who have worked through the uncertainty.

Cantrell also addressed federal funds the city has received to use for infrastructure projects.

“A lot of the results aren’t fast, but the real work is getting done. We don’t cut corners, we don’t make excuses, we understand that our work is complex. We understand that we are reaching out and touching the root causes of issues that have plagued our community for generations,” she said.

Among the economic development achievements Cantrell touted were the revitalization of the Charity Hospital and ongoing work to expand the city’s bio-innovation district.

She also praised the city’s hospitality industry and workers, saying unemployment has fallen and nightlife is booming.

On the subject of public safety and crime, Mayor Cantrell spoke about her government’s actions to support the NOPD through bonuses, pay rises and incentives for civil servants.

“I talked a lot about fighting. Fighting to get here, fighting to face the problems and challenges. But you know what, I’m tired of fighting. You know, my team, we’re tired of fighting. Right now we’re ready to build,” Cantrell said. “We want to build on all the progress we fought for in our city.”

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The mayor also pointed to a number of scandals that have drawn criticism this year, starting with her support of a juvenile delinquent found guilty of kidnapping several women by car.

The victims, upset that Mayor Cantrell appeared in court to support the car thief’s family, said at the time Cantrell just said “God bless you” to them as he left court.

“When I say, and every time I say, may the Spirit of the Lord be with you and God be with you and God bless you, I mean that because I live my faith every day,” she said. “I hope it resonates with families who have experienced violence in our community.”

Cantrell appeared to be referring to Lee Zurik’s off-office investigations into her use of the city-owned apartment in Pontalba, where she spent daytime hours with a member of her security detail.

“We know violence shows up on the streets of New Orleans, but it shows up in homes. It shows up among friends. It shows up even in public gatherings. We must reject it wherever it is,” Cantrell said. “It even shows up in my apartment, which I have a right to use.”

Dillard University political analyst Robert Collins said that while the speech was well put together, he was surprised Cantrell would bring up the Pontalba.

“She chose to mention the apartment in the Pontalba building. It’s really not an appropriate topic for a speech,” Collins said.

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