Cantrell, a city councilwoman, got 60% of the votes
"Together we truly will be better," she says
New Orleans voters elected LaToya Cantrell as mayor Saturday, making her the first woman to hold that position in the city’s 300-year history.
Cantrell, a city councilwoman, got 60% of the votes over her opponent, former municipal court Judge Desiree Charbonnet, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.
“We deserve better and together we truly will be better,” Cantrell told supporters Sunday morning.
“This victory is not about LaToya Cantrell, this campaign did not start about self. It only started with and has been rooted in the people of the city of New Orleans.”
The two women earned spots for Saturday’s runoff election after the October general election. Cantrell, an activist-turned-politician, will succeed Mayor Mitch Landrieu in May as the city marks the 300th anniversary of its founding.
“Congratulations to our very own District “B” Councilmember LaToya Cantrell, our city’s first elected female mayor!” the New Orleans City Council tweeted.
Cantrell, 45, grew up in California and moved to New Orleans to attend the Xavier University of Louisiana. She rose to prominence as a neighborhood activist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
After the historic flood, officials considered turning Cantrell’s neighborhood into parkland but it caused an uproar among residents. Cantrell, who was the president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association, organized protests and helped rebuild the neighborhood.
She won a seat in the New Orleans’ city council in 2012, and was re-elected in 2014. During her time in office, she has led the passage of an ordinance that prohibits smoking in bars, casinos and most public spaces in New Orleans, as well as taken part in an initiative to make the city more diverse.
As mayor of New Orleans, Cantrell will face several challenges, including a surge in violence, repeated water equipment failures and flooding from heavy rains.
CNN’s Joe Sutton contributed to this report.