In some parts of New Orleans, even now, homes are inhabitable. Touring the city eight months after Katrina, one may observe that in some areas, electricity is still out and debris is phenomenal, however, in the midst of all of the physical destruction, Mayor Ray Nagin and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu have not forgotten about the importance of colleges, and college students.
Although Mayor Nagin and Lt. Gov. Landrieu, the candidates for the May 20 run-off, have conflicting views about who would be the most effective leader for the city, they both have one thing in common, they say will concentrate on the college community. When asked about their plans for saving higher education in New Orleans, Nagin, who was rushing off to another event, said he would continue focusing on the universities and colleges in the city, making sure they have the appropriate resources such as housing.
Landrieu said, “I will fight for our higher education in Baton Rouge. This means that when State Legislature is in session, I will personally be in the Capitol advocating on behalf of New Orleans’ colleges and universities. I will make the priorities of our colleges and universities part of our city’s legislative agenda. As we work to rebuild New Orleans, I believe that higher education is one of our best economic punches. Our colleges and universities draw research dollars, energetic students and intellectual capitol that are an economic engine for this region.”
While Nagin and Landrieu share common ground saying they believe colleges are important to the city, their outlook on New Orleans differs in many ways. Nagin believes the city and the economy are doing well. When asked about his plans for reviving the city he said he believes the city is reviving itself. “Right now the city consist of 200,000 people, by the end of the year, we expect that number to grow from 200,000 to 300, 000,” Nagin said. He also said that because New Orleans has not yet recovered from the worst natural disaster in the country’s history, it would not be wise to elect a new mayor because that would only cause more complications for the city.
Landrieu on other hand believes that new leadership is exactly what the city needs. “Today, our city government is not meeting the obligations of the people of New Orleans. Our city needs a steady leader who can bring people together, stick to a plan and get results,” Landrieu said.
While the city stands in the threshold of the May 20 run-off, college students, like the candidates, can also have at least one thing in common; they can be at ease because both Nagin and Landrieu appear to have them in mind.