New Orleans — 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.”