More than just anticipation has been building since Mitch Landrieu’s mayoral election victory in February. As the weeks ticked past leading up to his inauguration, the expectations for change and fresh solutions from the new mayor of New Orleans grew to towering heights.
But at the recent annual meeting of Greater New Orleans Inc., the regional economic development group, the mayor-elect made clear that he has his own expectations for citizens and other local leaders. Landrieu used an address before this huge meeting of some 1,000 members of GNO Inc. to stump for a group effort in capitalizing on new optimism in the region and ensuring it leads to substantial positive change.
“We have to face the facts that our problems need to be fixed,” Landrieu said, listing crime reduction, education reform and job creation as priorities. “If we don’t seize the opportunity, it’s not going to happen by accident. No one is coming to save us; we have to save ourselves.”
Through March and April, Landrieu and his transition team assembled dozens of citizen-led task forces to advise on the city’s big issues, and the mayor-elect acknowledged the groundswell of new talent and enthusiasm across New Orleans that are helping move the city forward.
“It has been truly humbling to see the number of people who want to participate in the resurrection and redemption of this city and state, and I don’t use those words lightly,” he said. “We should look forward with hope, but also with resolve, with commitment, with great determination and purpose.”
Landrieu pointed out that the energy that citizens, organizations and entrepreneurs have poured into efforts to rebuild New Orleans better after the Katrina catastrophe are setting up the city for long-term dividends and helping remake its image to the world. He said it was ironic that the same city that appeared to be dying after Katrina is now the proving ground for ideas to reinvigorate America as a whole.
“There’s no greater lab of democracy than right here in the city of New Orleans as we rebuild education, transportation, the delivery of economic development,” Landrieu said. “In an amazing way, the people of America are going to find themselves on the streets of New Orleans, if we do our jobs. I’m going to do mine, and I hope you do yours.”