Despite the post-Hurricane Ida garbage crisis in New Orleans and enough challengers to rival WrestleMania’s Royal Rumble, 80% of community leaders say Mayor LaToya Cantrell will win reelection Nov. 13, according to The Times-Picayune Power Poll.
Almost half of those think she will capture 60% or more of the vote, a remarkable margin that might say as much about the weakness of her 13 opponents as it does about Cantrell’s handling of the garbage crisis and her overall performance over the past three years and five months in office.
Conducted online Monday through Thursday, the Power Poll survey is not a scientific inquiry. But because it asks questions of the top Jefferson and Orleans parish influencers in business, politics, arts, media, nonprofits and community affairs, it does afford a fascinating and nonpartisan insight into the thoughts and opinions of those who steer the region. Of 391 Power Poll members surveyed this week, 84 voted for a participation rate of 22%.
To be sure, Power Poll members are fed up New Orleans’ residential garbage collection service. More than two thirds say City Hall should seek competitive proposals from contractors now - not even waiting until one, two or three of the current lucrative agreements expire.
One member went so far as to suggest ditching the three vendors - Empire Services, Metro Service Group and Richard’s Disposal - and taking garbage collection in house: “The city need to fire the contractors and collect the garbage as a city service,” said Amy Stelly, director of the Claiborne Avenue Alliance and president of the Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents & Associates.
Most of the complaints about garbage collection - even before Hurricane Ida struck Aug. 29 - focused on Metro Service Group. Its territory stretches from Lakeview through Gentilly into New Orleans East and downriver of the French Quarter.
Metro has been missing collections for months. It blames a labor shortage, although the other two contractors are the subject of far fewer complaints.
In this week’s survey, 43% of respondents said Metro collects the garbage at their residence.
After Ida, more than half of the survey respondents said they waited more than two weeks for their first garbage pickup.