One-on-One: Cantrell discusses recall effort & refusing to be interviewed by PIB
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Mayor Latoya Cantrell says she is focused on moving the city forward following the failed recall efforts and the controversies related to a former member of her executive security team. Cantrell fielded myriad questions during a lengthy one-on-one interview with FOX 8 on Wednesday (March 29) at a local hotel.
Cantrell discussed how she was impacted by the effort to have her removed from office.
“Well, the recall, of course, as I’ve said I’m a human being so anytime, I’ve run twice to serve as the mayor of the city of New Orleans and I’ve won twice and I want to continue to serve as the mayor of this city but I want to serve in a city that wants me and so with the failed attempt it only reassured my commitment to the city but also the residents’ commitment to me in service as their mayor,” said Cantrell.
She was asked if the recall drive caused her to do personal reflection.
“Well, I would say in this role in serving as CEO of the city and having to make decisions and be accountable to those decisions no matter what they are I would say that reflection is always a part of the work because you’re always, I’m always really striving to be better, every day trying to be better, so in order to be better I have to self-reflect,” said Cantrell.
Tens of thousands of New Orleanians signed the recall petition in hopes of forcing a recall election but the recall drive came up short, in terms of the number of signatures required.
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Still, Cantrell says she is working hard to improve the city’s quality of life for supporters and detractors. But is there one area where she would like to improve as mayor?
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“Well, as mayor of New Orleans and reflection, it’s just staying focused as well. A part of that is not allowing the recall effort and the orchestration around the recall and other efforts that were aligned with it to distract me,” Cantrell stated.
Crime remains a thorn in the city’s side and Cantrell says fighting it remains her top priority.
FOX 8 also asked Cantrell about the investigation into Officer Jeffrey Vappie, who was a member of her security team and was reassigned as the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau investigates some of his actions.
In response to a question, Cantrell said she declined to be interviewed by PIB.
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“Oh well, PIB was advancing the investigation on behalf of the New Orleans Police Department. I was asked to participate or if I was going to interview and I chose not to,” said Cantrell.
When asked why she said, “Because I’m the mayor of the city of New Orleans and the investigation was on practices relative to my executive protection team and one that could be handled very well by PIB and of course with practices that have been aligned with executive protection teams that have been with mayors for decades in the city of New Orleans.”
Cantrell said her attorneys had no role in her decision not to take questions from PIB.
“No, I decided that the answer would be no, it never happened in the history of the city of New Orleans, unprecedented at its best and it was something that I chose not to participate in,” said Cantrell.
Previously, she has called the investigation thorough. FOX 8 asked how she knew that it was a comprehensive probe.
“Sure, well I know that I’m the mayor of the city and I know how I interact with my executive protection team and so knowing that gave me and continues to give me the confidence that’s truly needed and so I’ve just remained supportive of the PIB and their investigative practices and they move forward with their investigation and that’s what it is,” said Cantrell.
She has been criticized for commenting on an ongoing NOPD probe.
“Well, what I understand is that the crux of the investigation has pretty much come to a close and based on that I’m not commenting directly on the investigation, in terms of their practices, in regards to, you know, how they went about doing their investigation and I’ve not and I will not,” said Cantrell.
When asked how she knows the investigation is nearing its end, Cantrell said, “To my knowledge, is coming to a close.”
“Because one I know that it is coming to a close just relative to the process that the PIB has gone through, so I believe in terms of their interviews and the like those portions or that portion of the investigation has come to a close so that leads me to know that it’s moving towards an end.”
Cantrell insists her relationship with Vappie is appropriate.
“What I know is that perception, there’s always room for perceptions and which are not reality and so as it relates to my professional relationship with Officer Vappie, that’s where it is, it’s strictly professional and I also have learned I would say on Ofc. Vappie as it relates to being a real trusted adviser”, said Cantrell.
She was asked if she would want Vappie to return to his position as a member of her security team.
“Well, I would like for Officer. Vappie to be in a position that allows him to continue to be an adviser relative to public safety matters in the city of New Orleans,” said Cantrell.
Following a recall effort and the ongoing controversies surrounding Officer Vappie and the confidential PIB recordings that ended up in public, Cantrell was asked whether she thought she had been weakened as the city’s top leader.
“Well, how I size it up is really aligned with the work that we’ve been able to do and continue to do, and that is affiliated with cans that have been kicked around for decades in the city of New Orleans but under my leadership and that of my administration we have been able to tackle and address and deal with infrastructure improvements throughout the city, replacing pipes that have been here since 1852 in some areas, making sure that we have a power plant that is under construction for the Sewerage and Water Board,” said Cantrell.
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW BELOW
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