Ray Nagin's Biography
Nagin won the New Orleans mayoral election in May 2002, in spite of never holding a previous elected office. He was the first Mayor in 60 years to do so.
In May 2006, Ray Nagin was re-elected after a hard-fought mayoral election contest. Nagin received 52.3% of the vote and his rival Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu attained 47.7%.
Before becoming Mayor, Ray Nagin was vice president and general manager of the cable company Cox Communications.
One of Ray Nagin's first acts as Mayor was to launch an investigation into the running of New Orleans utilities that led to the arrest of over 80 workers.
Nagin would become known internationally after the terrible disaster of Hurricane Katrina, but it was only one year earlier that Hurricane Ivan disrupted New Orleans and the mayor was urging "vertical evacuation" (escape to high-rise buildings or hotels or a local sports stadium). It was estimated that around 100,000 residents of New Orleans did not have cars.
In May 2005, The Guardian published an article about mayors signing up to get American cities to meet the US's Kyoto environmental target which George Bush repudiated, in which it stated:
"Ray Nagin, the mayor of low-lying New Orleans and a Democrat, told the New York Times that he joined the coalition because a projected rise in sea levels 'threatens the very existence of New Orleans'."
It was only a couple of months later that Hurricane Katrina struck. It was the USA's worst disaster for 100 years.
Ray Nagin caused controversy when he told police to use persuasion or force to evacuate anyone refusing to leave flooded New Orleans.
The Mayor had previously slammed the Federal response to the catastrophe. In an interview with 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley, Nagin said:
"Too many people died because of lack of action ... Lack of coordination and some goofy laws that basically say there's not a clear distinction of when the federal government stops and when the state government starts. And if you have federal - if the federal government takes over, then you're giving up some powers. Or if the governor don't ask the president and the president don't ask the governor, and it was just b.s."
Ray Nagin is married to Seletha Smith Nagin and they have three children.
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