BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The effort to recall Democratic New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell has failed, following an official count of petition signatures released by the Louisiana governor’s office Tuesday.
Although the petition sheets contained over 67,000 signatures, most where declared invalid by the registrar. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that only 27,243 of the signatures were valid — falling about 18,000 short of what was needed to force a referendum. Signatures can be rejected for a multitude of reasons including, if they are dated after the deadline, the title page is mislabeled, there is erroneous information or profanity, if the person is out-of-parish or if the signature is a duplicate.
“My administration has always remained focused on addressing the real pressing issues that face our city,” Cantrell said in a statement to 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.”
The number of signatures needed to force the recall has been debated in court. Recall organizers sued officials, saying the rolls were inflated with hundreds of dead people and thousands of people who have moved away.
Earlier this month, New Orleans Civil District Court Judge Jennifer Medley approved a lawsuit settlement agreement that significantly lowered the number of signatures needed to force a recall election. However, after The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate revealed the judge herself had signed the recall petition, Medley said another judge would decide whether she should be removed from the case.
“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,” Maggie Carroll, the longtime campaign manager for Cantrell, said in a written statement Tuesday.
Recall efforts against Cantrell, the first woman to serve as New Orleans mayor, began last August, less than a year after she began her second term.
She was easily reelected in 2021 but has since 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.
Cantrell has repeatedly criticized the recall effort as a Republican-led attack on the administration of a Black, Democratic woman.