Mitch Landrieu is serving his second term as mayor of New Orleans, the city's first white mayor since Landrieu's father left the office more than 30 years ago. The Landrieu name is well known in Louisiana politics (U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is the mayor's older sister.) Mitch Landrieu's father, Moon Landrieu, is beloved by African-Americans in New Orleans for his role in desegregating the city in the 1970s. For his part, the younger Landrieu has made huge strides in easing racial tensions that surfaced after Hurricane Katrina, although he is sometimes accused of neglecting the city's poorest residents and Latino immigrants. The mayor recently talked to National Journal about how far New Orleans has come since Katrina and the challenges that still lay ahead. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
A lot of people say New Orleans is back. How is the city different than it was before Katrina?
We got hurt really badly; it was the worst man-made disaster in American history. But we have 85 percent of our people back. And the metropolitan area is as big or bigger than before. I feel really good about the fact that so many people came back. We have a very diverse city—it's still a majority African-American. We've seen a large influx of Hispanics, and they've added to the richness and diversity. Then we also have the young people who came and helped us rebuild and have decided to stay, so there's a good vibe in the city, and we've been getting things done. Some people continue to note that not everything is getting done at the same level for everyone, but we're working on that.