IWO Endorses Mayor Latoya Cantrell – But Not by Acclamation

Note: The article has been updated to correct some inaccuracies after an IWO member who was also in attendance contacted Big Easy Magazine. 

When Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke via Zoom at the annual brunch of the Independent Women’s Organization (IWO) on Saturday, July 24, the members responded overwhelmingly to her strong message of fighting as a Black woman to create change. One supporter immediately started planning to seek an endorsement by acclamation at IWO’s July 31st endorsement meeting.

IWO scheduled a candidate’s forum for all the Democratic contenders in several races – including mayor- for Wednesday, July 28 at 6 p.m. Although invited to participate the week before, Cantrell informed IWO’s leadership that day she had “commitments” and would be unable to attend. However, the forum was not a prerequisite for an endorsement. Only two candidates attended. To be clear, Cantrell’s campaign staff had no expectation of a vote by acclamation or overwhelming support. In fact, the IWO endorsement four years ago was hard-fought and went to a run-off with Charbonnet. This year, she won handily with no runoff.

Approximately 15 minutes after the mayoral forum began, an informed citizen captured an image of Cantrell at the bar of Felipe’s having a drink with a man associated with Entergy. Information quickly began to circulate that Mayor Cantrell chose drinks at Felipe’s over IWO’s candidate interview. However, there’s no way to know the urgency of the meeting or if it was just a casual meeting. The only thing we can verify is that the mayor was at Felipe’s during the IWO forum. 

Photo credit: Kaitlin Barber

During the endorsement meeting IWO president Mary Griggs admitted that a member of Cantrell’s campaign staff suggested the endorsement by acclamation. Before a motion for acclamation could be introduced, at least one IWO member questioned Cantrell’s absence at the forum. Of the 124 members who voted on the acclamation motion, 24% voted against acclamation and 6% abstained. In the end IWO endorsed Cantrell of course, and IWO previously endorsed Cantrell four years ago. 

If Cantrell had attended the candidate’s forum, she would have to had to answer questions about the slow response time by first responders and how to address chronic NOPD manpower shortages in an effort to address the city’s crime problem. Cantrell’s campaign staff did not respond to a request for comment.  

Other candidates who did appear at the forum included Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Assessor Erroll Williams, as well as those vying for State District 102 and Clerk Criminal District Court. In addition to Cantrell, IWO endorsed Williams, fellow IWO member Delisha Boyd for House 102, Darren Lombard for Criminal Court Clerk and issued a dual endorsement for Gusman and challenger Susan Hutson. 

IWO has more than 400 members including many women elected officials and dozens interested in running for office. However, many of the members have not been long enough to be eligible to vote. IWO’s endorsement carries significant weight with women voters in the New Orleans political community.  

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