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Nagin Re-Elected to Lead Post-Katrina New Orleans


New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin won reelection over the weekend. Now he's planning to meet with key advisors to develop a 100-day plan. That 100 days will include the start of another hurricane season.

New Orleans residents have their own hopes for the coming months and years, as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY reporting:

When Ray Nagin was first elected mayor of New Orleans, he won a reputation as a reformer out to clean up city hall. Hurricane Katrina changed his image. Now, after winning a second term, he says it's much too early to talk about a legacy, but he does have a vision about the next four years.

Mayor RAY NAGIN (New Orleans): Well, I think the opportunity has presented itself for me to kind of go down in history as the mayor that guided the City of New Orleans through an incredible rebuild cycle, and really eliminated a lot of the pre-Katrina problems that we had with blight, with crime, and with, hopefully with the public school system.

CORLEY: Nagin says he wants less of a divide between the city's have and have-nots, and he says there's plenty of economic opportunities as the city seeks to rebuild itself out of its hurricane morass.

In the parking lot of a Walmart, 20-year-old Edward Scott, who voted for Nagin, says he knows what the mayor means. Scott says he and his uncle bought a dump truck in the hopes of landing work at demolition sites. In the meantime, he's working at an environmental firm. Scott says there are plenty of job opportunities.

Mr. EDWARD SCOTT (New Orleans Resident): I even got a chance (unintelligible). I used to be a cook at Chili's, and they gave me a chance, you know? They started me off here and, you know, you've got a chance to work up. And before the storm, you had to have experience or something to get in that kind of work.

CORLEY: Leandra Cate(ph) moved from California back home to New Orleans last year, before the hurricane. A secretary for an attorney, Cate says jobs might be widely available now, but she expects there might be a problem a year from now if construction dies down. She voted for Nagin and says the biggest concern for her is garbage pickup.

Ms. LEANDRA CATE (New Orleans Resident): I don't know if that's the mayor's department, but if he is, I hope he steps on it. Because right now, we have two small children running around our neighborhood with trash that's been laying there for sometimes two weeks, sometimes a month, sometimes two months. That's a serious health issue.

CORLEY: Tulane University sophomore Max Rosen says he doesn't believe Mayor Nagin accomplished much during the hurricane. He supported Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu. He's disappointed Nagin was reelected and he's hoping the mayor will do more the next four years.

Mr. MAX ROSEN (New Orleans Resident): I want to see a lot more jobs. I want to see a lot more housing developments. I want to see basic things like, you know, the streets being fixed. The streets are really, like, a mess. And schools that are, haven't been flooded that aren't open yet, and I just don't understand why.

CORLEY: The mayor says Hulice Randall(ph) had a burden on his shoulders, but she says both Nagin and the city are still standing. Randall, a lab assistant, had to live in Georgia for about six months before returning home. She's optimistic about the city's future under Nagin's leadership.

Ms. HULICE RANDALL (New Orleans Resident): We have a vision and he sees the vision. And I think he's going to do it, you know? I'm praying that he will do it, you know, just to get this city back in order.

CORLEY: The mayor says he'll begin addressing the myriad of problems the city has as he meets with advisors to discuss the rebuilding plans he has for New Orleans during his second term.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, New Orleans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cheryl Corley is a Chicago-based NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. She primarily covers criminal justice issues as well as breaking news in the Midwest and across the country.
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