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New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin won re-election in a tight run-off race Saturday, and now faces the challenge of starting the massive rebuilding effort of the hurricane-battered city. Ray Suarez provides an update.
Though New Orleans is still suffering nine months after Katrina, a majority of voters this weekend chose not to punish incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin, giving him four more years in office.
RAY NAGIN, Mayor of New Orleans: I want to thank all the wonderful people of the city of New Orleans for this encouragement, for this victory, for this time for us to set the stage for our recovery.
Nagin led all candidates in the first round and picked up enough new supporters to defeat current Lieutenant Government Mitch Landrieu, by roughly 52 to 48 percent.
LT. GOV MITCH LANDRIEU (D), Louisiana: Of course, I want to congratulate Mayor Nagin. This was a hard-fought campaign. It was fought well within the boundaries of political discourse.
The race was not nearly as nasty as previous mayoral battles. The results did split largely along racial lines. Fewer than half the city's 455,000 pre-Hurricane residents are still in the city, now divided about equally among blacks and whites.
Landrieu's father, Moon, was the last white mayor to lead New Orleans in the '70s. Landrieu won a majority of the white vote and picked up more local endorsements during the campaign.
But Nagin, a former cable television executive, captured 80 percent of the black vote and convinced enough white conservatives that his business background would help return the city to pre-Katrina glory.
Nagin has vowed to solve the severe housing shortage and remove the mountains of debris, just two of the lingering problems that have kept thousands of evacuees scattered across the country.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN:
It's time for us to get together and rebuild this city. And when we rebuild this city, we rebuild the entire state.
The mayor also said he'd improve strained relations with Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and his own city council. His second term begins May 31st, one day before the start of the new hurricane season.
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