Council members sworn in

Advocate staff photo by DERICK HINGLE LaToya Cantrell is sworn into office by her father-in-law, Magistrate Commissioner Harry Cantrell, on Wednesday, becoming the newest member of the New Orleans City Council. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by DERICK HINGLE LaToya Cantrell is sworn into office by her father-in-law, Magistrate Commissioner Harry Cantrell, on Wednesday, becoming the newest member of the New Orleans City Council.

Months after interim members were tapped to fill two seats, the City Council again has permanent representatives in all seven districts.

District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell was sworn into office during a brief ceremony on Wednesday afternoon in the City Council chambers. District E Councilman James Gray took office Tuesday during a private ceremony in his new City Hall office with his wife, Juvenile Court Judge Ernestine Gray, officiating.

Gray beat state Rep. Austin Badon during the Dec. 8 runoff and fills the seat Jon Johnson vacated after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

“We have a laundry list of proposals and projects that we need to study and then move forward,” Gray said in a prepared statement. “We want to be running on all cylinders by the New Year.”

While Gray’s installation was a quiet, intimate affair, Maria Tio, his communications director, said a public ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. Dec. 27 in the council chambers.

Meanwhile, Cantrell held a celebration that drew dozens, including supporters, family, fellow elected leaders and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield.

Interim District B Councilwoman Diana Bajoie said Cantrell has done good work as a neighborhood leader in Broadmoor and expected the overall district to improve under the new leadership.

Former District B Councilman Jim Singleton, who is the elder statesman of the Central City-based BOLD political organization that backed Cantrell, told the councilwoman she has large shoes to fill, a comment that drew laughter when the towering Singleton pointed out that he wears a size 15 shoe.

Cantrell said she is prepared to get to work in her new post after she defeated juvenile justice advocate Dana Kaplan in the Dec. 8 runoff election. The seat opened last spring when Stacy Head was elected to one of the two at-large seats that opened when Arnie Fielkow took a job in the private sector.

Speaking after she took the oath from her father-in-law, Magistrate Commissioner Harry Cantrell, LaToya Cantrell vowed to be “fair, firm and friendly.”

“I will listen, I will be extremely accessible, but most importantly together we will get results done,” Cantrell said as her colleagues and supporters, Councilwomen Kristin Palmer and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell looked on.

“My heart is in this,” Cantrell said. “This is not about a position. This is about improving the quality of life of people who deserve it.”