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Cantrell says charter change targeted her, but will have bigger impact later

The vote came as a major blow to the mayor who lobbied against the proposition.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell says she will abide by the will of the people.

Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly approved a change to the city charter. It gives members of the city council the authority to confirm or deny city department heads including the police and fire superintendents.

Until now, the mayor had the sole power to select the city’s top appointees.

“We are a strong mayor city, home rule charter," Cantrell said Thursday at an event in New Orleans East. “So, I do believe that it has been proposed with taking a shot at me.”

The vote came as a major blow to the mayor who lobbied against the proposition.

In a recent quality of life survey conducted by the University of New Orleans, only 31 percent of the respondents said they approved of the job Cantrell is doing.

UNO pollster Dr. Ed Chervenak said because the mayor is struggling, she did not have the political capital to fight off the charter change.

“If she had come out and forcefully said we can’t do this, there probably would have been even more votes for it as a result because she’s not very popular, right now,” Chervenak said.

Chervenak is not surprised the amendment passed.

“When you put it in terms of transparency and accountability that’s what people are buying into," he said.

Cantrell believes the real focus of the proposition is eliminating the powers of the mayor.

“The real impact is not me,” Cantrell said. “The real impact is on the governing structure of the city of New Orleans beyond me.”

Current city department heads can keep their jobs.

Top mayoral appointments after January first will be subject to council confirmation.

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