NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Ray Nagin, who urged voters not to change leaders before the hurricane season, starts his second term just as the season begins.
His inauguration Thursday comes less than two weeks after he defeated Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and on the first day of the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season.
The 49-year-old self-styled maverick won his second term May 20 in an election dominated by discussions of Hurricane Katrina, which continues to affect nearly every aspect of life in the Crescent City nine months after the storm.
Nagin, whose term began Wednesday, was to take the oath Thursday afternoon at the Convention Center, a site where thousands took refuge without food or water in increasingly squalid conditions after the Aug. 29 storm blew ashore and flooding began.
Nagin could have taken the oath Wednesday, after the mandated period for contesting the outcome passed, but he was not required to, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Swearing in ceremonies were also planned Thursday for the seven members of the City Council.
Inauguration events include an interfaith service at St. Louis Cathedral, a prominent landmark on the edge of Jackson Square, and a second-line parade, a New Orleans tradition in which bystanders join musicians marching down the street waving umbrellas and handkerchiefs.
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, who has had a sometimes rocky relationship with Nagin, planned to speak at the church service.
Other planned inauguration speakers include: Donald Powell, President Bush's adviser on Gulf Coast recovery; U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (news, bio, voting record), the older sister of Nagin's opponent; U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (news, bio, voting record), whose district includes New Orleans and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a civil rights activist who protested the timing and procedures of the election before Nagin's win.