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Quotes From New Orleans Candidates, Voters

April 22, 2006

Quotes from candidates, voters and others interested in New Orleans’ first post-Katrina municipal election:

``I’m a change artist. I’m a reformer. ... I knew there was going to be an effort to come after me.″ _ Mayor Ray Nagin said of the nearly two dozen candidates fighting for his job.

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``Whatever happens today, we’re all going to roll up our sleeves and help rebuild.″ _ Ron Forman, candidate and chief executive of the nonprofit Audubon Institute, after voting.

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``The next mayor has got to be able to unite the city and get the job done.″ _ candidate and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu before voting with his 18-year-old daughter, who was voting for the first time.

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``We’re still citizens of New Orleans. We still want to know what’s going on there. I still have my driver’s license. My license plate still says Louisiana.″ _ J. Todd Smith, a displaced voter who traveled by bus from Atlanta to vote Saturday.

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``A lot of people want to come home. In some cases they were hugging and crying. They hadn’t seen each other since the storm.″ _ Ruth Anthon, commissioner at a poll serving voters from the badly flooded Lakeshore area, describing reunions among voters.

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``Do you want change? Yes. But what kind do you want? How bad do you fault a man for a few problems during a disaster? There are just a lot of things to weigh and decide.″ _ Rosalie Ramm, 52, on the difficulty of choosing a candidate after Hurricane Katrina.

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``The present mayor needed to go under all circumstances. Crime was high before the storm. Deterioration of the infrastructure was here before the storm. There was no economic development in the neighborhoods. So Katrina was just the icing on the cake. Nagin had no plan to bring people out of poverty. He didn’t do what he needed to do and he had long enough.″ _ Social worker Sharon Alexis on why she voted against Nagin.

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``We are facing in New Orleans ... a calamity of an election, an embarrassing crisis in contradiction. We fight for democracy in Iraq and there’s an absolute denial of it here in New Orleans today. This election lacks the legitimacy afforded us in the 1965 Voting Right Act.″ _ the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who says he’ll challenge the election’s outcome in court, even if black candidates do well.

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