Newell Normand: Cantrell vs. Charbonnet the devil's in the details

Newell Normand
November 16, 2017 - 7:19 pm

New Orleans mayoral candidates LaToya Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet squared off in a debate on WWL Radio Wednesday night. Check out Newell Normand's HOT TAKES on how the debate went down.

  • I had a good time last night in my first time as a panelist in a mayoral debate. We discussed many issues like crime, revenue collection, Mayor Landrieu's best hires, campaign finance, blight, the homeless population and panhandling, and the gift that keeps on giving, the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board.
  • When it came to revenue collection, I think the candidates were short on specifics. We did hear a lot of de-obligation language from Ms. Cantrell, talking about Ms. Charbonnet, on the other hand, had a different approach, which would rely on development and expanding the tax base.
  • We asked both candidates about campaign finance and so-called pay-to-play when it comes to receiving campaign contributions from City contractors. Would you be willing to introduce an ordinance that would prohibit both the City Council and the Mayor from receiving donations from those that have a city contract.
  • There seemed to be a little hesitation from both Charbonnet and Cantrell to making that pledge. What mystifies me about that is that pay-to-play has been an undercurrent in this campaign from the very beginning. They looked at me like I created this issue. I didn't dream this up. It's even been in commercials.
  • I got a lot of response to our topic on the homeless and panhandling. The entry to the South Market District. You come down off the interstate, and you're entering an area that the City has really done a great job of renovating. I give kudos where they're do. That whole corridor is just beautiful, and it continues to improve. The streetcar, new hotels, new restaurants, new condos, there's just a huge transformation there. But you go through homeless city to get there. That first impression is a lasting impression.
  • If you want to give the homeless and the panhandlers a piece of geography, then that's fine. Just don't give them that particular piece because you've got all this economic development going on, and you want to get the return on that investment.
  • Candidates come into these debates very guarded. It's hard to draw them out. They don't want to hurt themselves this close to the election. It's hard to rip away the body armor and have them reveal more about themselves.
  • The criminal justice is made up of multiple organizations: NOPD, the District Attorney, the Indigent Defenders, the Criminal Sheriff, the Courts. Many of them are independently elected. They bring their philosophy to their office. That's the platform they run on, and that's the platform they get elected on.
  • All of that has to get thrown out because it doesn't align with the Mayor or the City Council, and then you get browbeat vis-a-vis the budget. That's the inherent rub in this system. People talk about collaboration, but the devil is in the details. And I don't see much collaboration.
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