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Marc H. Morial


In office
May 2, 1994 – May 6, 2002
Preceded by Sidney Barthelemy
Succeeded by Ray Nagin

In office
1992–1994
Preceded by Ben Bagert
Succeeded by Paulette Irons

Born January 3, 1958 (1958-01-03) (age 52)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Michelle Miller

Marc Haydel Morial (born January 3, 1958) is an American political and civic leader and former mayor of New Orleans. Morial served as mayor from 1994 to 2002.[1]

Contents

Early life and career

Marc Morial grew up in New Orleans, in the 7th ward. He is the son of New Orleans' first African-American mayor, the late Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, and teacher Sybil (Haydel) Morial. He is the second of five children. Morial graduated from Jesuit High School in 1976, then received a bachelor's degree in economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1980. Morial then earned a J.D. degree in 1983 from Georgetown University. He opened a private law practice and served as a board member for the Louisiana American Civil Liberties Union from 1986 to 1988. After an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1990, in which he came in second place and was defeated in a runoff by Bill Jefferson, Morial spent two years in the Louisiana state senate from 1992 to 1994, then followed in his father's footsteps by twice being elected mayor of New Orleans in the elections of 1994 and 1998. One of his opponents in the 1994 mayoral election was Mitch Landrieu, who was also the son of a former mayor, and who was also later elected Mayor on 7 February, 2010.

Morial is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.

Morial as mayor

Morial gained election as mayor in 1994 by defeating Donald Mintz with 54% of the vote. He campaigned under the promise to “clean out City Hall with a shovel not a broom.” The issue of endemic corruption in the city's Police Department was addressed after Morial hired Richard Pennington as Police Superintendent. On Pennington's first day of work, Morial introduced the new superintendent to investigators from the FBI, who proceeded to aggressively rout out corruption in the New Orleans Police Department. During the first seven years of his time as mayor, Morial’s approval rating stayed at or near 70%.

Though the growth of the city's tourist and convention sector accelerated appreciably during Morial's mayoralty, boosted in part by the breakneck economic growth enjoyed by the United States in the late 1990s, Morial was arguably even less successful than his predecessor in attracting investment in other, more high-wage economic sectors. White collar employment continued to drain away from the city, led by Big Oil's ongoing reduction of its presence in downtown New Orleans and consolidation of activities in Houston. By the end of Morial's second term, New Orleans was no longer viewed by corporate decision-makers as a viable location for large-scale white collar employment, economically impactful entrepreneurial activity was negligible, and the city's economy had arrived at a condition of dangerous over-reliance on the tourism sector. Still, tourism boomed during Marc Morial's mayoralty; the city’s downtown core saw the construction of 14 new hotels during his tenure. This development was due in part to the much-publicized reduction in New Orleans’ high crime rate through the effective leadership of Morial’s police chief Pennington. Of particular significance was the 60% reduction achieved in the city’s violent crime rate. These real gains enabled a resurgence of interest and investment in the city's older historic neighborhoods, and New Orleans did benefit from the national trend of increasing interest in urban living. The number of households within the city limits stabilized for the first time since beginning their decline in the 1960s, a significant accomplishment. Morial also secured bond issues for street improvements, the Canal Street streetcar line, and another expansion of the city’s convention center.

Morial continued his father’s focus on building fairness into the city's contracting policies. He reached out to black-owned businesses, inspiring them to apply for contracts. He also enforced the city’s residency rule for police officers and other city workers, which had previously been unevenly enforced.

Two of the most well-known accomplishments of his administration both dealt with professional sports: He is widely credited with returning NBA basketball to the city by orchestrating negotiations that led to the league's Charlotte Hornets relocating there; and following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Morial persuaded the organizers of a large automotive exposition to change its date so that Super Bowl XXXVI (held at the Louisiana Superdome) could be played one week later than originally scheduled, enabling the NFL to keep its postseason tournament fully intact, as the week of regular-season games slated to be played on the weekend following the attacks had to be postponed and was transferred to the end of the regular season.

Based on his record of reducing crime and reforming the police department, Morial easily won re-election to a second term in 1998. Like his father, Marc Morial made an attempt to amend the city charter in order to allow himself to run for a third term as mayor in 2002. Morial cast this campaign, in part, as a mechanism to gain a mandate to assume control of the city's public schools and turn around their miserable performance, taking his cue from other mayors' similar assumptions of control of their public school systems - notably Richard M. Daley in Chicago. However, Morial's effort failed, with 61% of voters rejecting the amendment.

From 2000 to 2002, Morial was also President of the United States Conference of Mayors.

After city hall

After leaving the office of mayor, Morial was named President and CEO of the National Urban League, one of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organizations. His tenure began on May 15, 2003.

References

External Links/Sources

Political offices
Preceded by
Bernard J. "Ben" Bagert, Jr. (D)
Louisiana State Senator from District 4 (Orleans Parish)

Marc H. Morial (D)
1992–1994

Succeeded by
Paulette Irons (D)
Preceded by
Sidney Barthelemy (D)
Mayor of New Orleans
1994–2002
Succeeded by
C. Ray Nagin (D)
Preceded by
H. Brent Coles
Boise, ID
President of the United States Conference of Mayors
2001 – 2002
Succeeded by
Thomas Menino
Boston, MA
Preceded by
Hugh Price
President of the National Urban League
2003–present
Succeeded by
incumbent

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