New Orleans Voters Reward Nagin's Fine Work With Another Term
ABC News - Mayor Ray Nagin, whose shoot-from-the-hip style was both praised and scorned after Hurricane Katrina, narrowly won re-election over Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu on Saturday in the race to oversee one of the biggest rebuilding projects in U.S. history.
"We are ready to take off. We have citizens around the country who want to come back to the city of New Orleans, and we're going to get them all back," Nagin said in a joyful victory speech that took on the tone of Sunday sermon.
"It's time for us to stop the bickering," he said. "It's time for us to stop measuring things in black and white and yellow and Asian. It's time for us to be one New Orleans."
Nagin won with 52.3 percent, or 59,460 votes, to Landrieu's 47.7 percent, or 54,131 votes. While the vote was split largely along racial lines, Nagin was able to get enough of a crossover in predominantly white districts to make the difference. He also won a slim majority of absentee and fax votes cast by evacuees scattered across the country.
Nagin, a former cable television executive first elected to public office in 2002, had argued the city could ill-afford to change course just as rebuilding gathered steam.
His second term begins a day before the June 1 start of the next hurricane season in a city where streets are still strewn with rusting, mud-covered cars and entire neighborhoods consist of homes that are empty shells.
With little disagreement on the major issues the right of residents to rebuild in all areas and the urgent need for federal aid for recovery and top-notch levees the race turned on leadership styles.
Nagin, a janitor's son from a black, working-class neighborhood, is known for his improvisational, some say impulsive, rhetoric. After Katrina plunged his city into chaos, Nagin was both scorned and praised for a tearful plea for the federal government to "get off their (behinds) and do something" and his now-famous remark that God intended New Orleans to be a "chocolate" city.