Dec 4, 2023 - Politics

What Mayor LaToya Cantrell says her reasons are for international travel

Illustration of a plane with the City of New Orleans logo on its tail, and the words CITY OF NEW ORLEANS on the side.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Mayor LaToya Cantrell is in Dubai this week representing New Orleans at the United Nation's Climate Change Conference.

Why it matters: Cantrell's frequent international travel schedule is fodder for happy hour chatter, but her administration says it is part of doing the city's business.

Catch up quick: Cantrell has had several international and domestic trips this year to conferences, events and sister city agreements.

  • Her destinations include Kenya, France, South Korea, Los Angeles, San Diego and Washington, D.C.
  • Financial arrangements for the trips were not immediately available, but in at least the France trip, another organization picked up most of the tab.

Context: Cantrell and the City Council squared off last year over her first-class flight upgrades charged to the city. She eventually repaid about $29,000 to the city.

  • She faces ethics charges from the Louisiana Board of Ethics, which says she improperly billed the city for those upgrades.
  • Cantrell at a press conference last month said she is "definitely not in favor" of the charges at all.

Worth noting: The ethics charges do not challenge the purpose or the necessity of the trips.

The big picture: It's common for mayors to travel as part of their jobs. Cantrell is joined in Dubai by five other mayors in the delegation from the United States Conference of Mayors.

  • Denver's previous mayor was a frequent international flyer, and San Antonio's mayor had 16 trips last year for conferences and meetings.
  • The mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, also travels for conferences, and told Axios' Torey Van Oot that "going beyond the border of our city to tell our story is critical to accomplishing" the city's policy goals.

Between the lines: Appearances at national summits and conferences also elevate the mayors' political and personal profiles, which could be helpful if they aspire to higher offices someday.

Photo shows Mayor Cantrell and a bunch of men on stage at the World Climate Industry Expo in South Korea.
LaToya Cantrell, front row in the white suit, was the only U.S. mayor who participated in the 2023 World Climate Industry Expo in South Korea. Photo: Courtesy of City of New Orleans

What's happening: When reached by email, Cantrell's press secretary declined to comment for this story.

  • So, here's what city press releases say about Cantrell's reasons for some of her trips this year.

Dubai: She's speaking on several panels. She also will be "meeting with fellow leaders, experts and advocates as we take collective, global action towards eliminating" risks from climate change such as stronger storms, heat waves, drought and saltwater intrusion.

France: "As France continues to be a major exporting and trade partner today, it is vitally important that we continue to cultivate and strengthen our relationship, as well as create new ones."

South Korea: She participated in several panels about living with climate change and said she was using the conference "to see how other countries are approaching the same issue and share best practices."

Washington: She attended a leadership conference and said she was looking forward to "reconnecting with this emerging generation of leaders as we come together to create more inclusive, equitable, resilient and welcoming communities across the globe."

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