THE ICON: Mitch Landrieu
THE LEGACY: When Mitch Landrieu assumed the reins at New Orleans City Hall in 2010, the city was already five years into its recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but in many ways there wasn’t much to show for it. His predecessor, Ray Nagin — now serving prison time on corruption charges — left behind a city in shambles financially, beset by internal corruption and suffering from deeply rooted bureaucratic dysfunction. That changed over Landrieu’s eight years at the helm, as he helped the city turn the post-Katrina corner by — among other things — balancing the budget, establishing new policies for handling of public contracts, boosting the city’s cultural economy and getting work started on a $1 billion airport expansion. In short, the tone Landrieu set and the work he did at City Hall made the city stronger — and one that, for the first time in years, could legitimately look to the future rather than bemoaning the past.
THE ARTIST: Jeff Morgan
THE INSPIRATION: “We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz, the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures. Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffuletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think.” — Mitch Landrieu, on New Orleans, in 2017