Cantrell, Charbonnet trade barbs in WWL debate

Mayoral candidates Desiree Charbonnet, left, and LaToya Cantrell attend a debate Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, at Xavier University. The debate was sponsored by WWL-TV and the AARP.
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Mayoral candidates Desiree Charbonnet and LaToya Cantrell spoke candidly on Monday as the runoff election on Nov. 18 nears.

The debate, put on by WWL-TV and the AARP, started with a conversation about the investigation into Cantrell’s use of city credit cards -- an allegation Cantrell said was misrepresented when Charbonnet’s campaign released it to the media.

"In no way did I use my credit card for personal expenses,” Cantrell said. “However, I did reimburse the city of New Orleans to ensure one, that there weren't any gray areas. I went above and beyond what was even required."

Charbonnet was also questioned about her connections to Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro. Former WWL-TV anchor Dennis Woltering, who moderated the debate, asked Charbonnet if she made a promise to the DA to restore more than half-a-million dollars in funding to his office if he backed her.

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"I've never admitted or told the DA that I would give him the budget back,” Charbonnet responded. “I told him I would reconsider this budget and give him a budget that is appropriate for his office. At no time, have I committed that other $600,000 to him."

The two candidate were also asked about reducing crime, affordable housing and how they would manage the Sewerage & Water Board before they questioned each other.

“Ma'am, how could a former judge manipulate public documents, submit it as if it's fact, to agencies throughout the city of New Orleans,” Cantrell said, suggesting Charbonnet or her campaign provided the media with doctored receipts for expenses she used her city credit car on. “I mean, how could you do that!? And lie about it?”

“Oh, I'm not the liar here,” Charbonnet shot back.

“Oh, yeah,” Cantrell said incredulously. “Oh, yeah.”

Those who attended the debate said the animosity between the candidates was off putting.

"I think the interpersonal dynamics between the two, kinda catty,” said Ronald Ward.

The full debate can be viewed below: