For the man they have in mind, seven years will be enough time for him to meet the qualifications. According to New Orleans' charter:
Section 4-202. Qualifications.
The Mayor shall be a citizen of the United States and a qualified elector of the City, and shall have been domiciled in the City for at least five years immediately preceding the election.
Mayor Landrieu has raised expectations in the city. He ran on the promise of knowing what needed to be done to increase the city's general prosperity and improve its infrastructure, as well as knowing how to do it. As the former mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Nicolas Sarkozy knows how to run a city.
As Co-Prince of Andorra, he knows how to run a principality, something which Orleans Parish has sometimes been compared to. As President of France, he is used to the rough-and-tumble of politics. Compared to a whole country the size of Texas, running New Orleans would be a cakewalk. He would certainly have the chutzpah and wherewithal to stand down the bureaucrats in Baton Rouge and cut through the red tape to get the city the independence it deserves.
There's just the niggling detail of Sarkozy's nationality and place of residence. Even in this most francophile of cities it would be impossible, by statute, to elect a Frenchman to the position of mayor. It's been a long, long time since a french speaker had any voice in New Orleans' executive branch.
This is why Sarkozy partisans are looking for Mayor Landrieu to keep up the good work and win a second term. In that time, Nicolas Sarkozy could retire from the French presidency, establish himself in New Orleans, gain citizenship, and register to vote in time to run for the city's executive office. It would be a seamless transition from one charismatic leader to the next, albeit the successor would have more hair and may not possess the same sense of rhythm for dancing in second line parades as the incumbent.
Plans are afoot to rent a home on Saint Charles Avenue for M. Sarkozy should he be interested in the plum position. Rumor has it that Tulane University is crafting a position for M. Sarkozy in diplomacy and that Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle Orleans is also setting up a desk for an unnamed possible grammar professor to be signed to tenure. If M. Sarkozy is going to live in the city, true to his ethic, he'll have to work.
Word on the street is that this is all just hopeful prognostication. Sarkozy's spokespeople deny that the sitting president has any plans beyond governing the French Republic and they refute that he any designs on being New Orleans' mayor. I was in the back room at Iggy's the other night and I stumbled into a conversation between folks who were convinced of the contrary.
A grizzled dockworker opined, "Sure Sarkozy's a shoe-in. We need that kind of expertise and I think we can sweeten the pot a bit. Heck, I'll personally deliver five pounds of crawfish and a pot of Pontchartrain crabs to his house every day he's in office. He'll be better than Nagin."
The pulse on the street is that Sarkozy, or anybody, will be better than this chap:
A letter writing campaign will be launched shortly to convince M. Sarkozy that it is in his and the world's best interest to run for Mayor of New Orleans. This world class city deserves the best. On it's upward trajectory, New Orleans has already elected a better mayor. When this one is done with his job, it will be time to trade up even further. Aim high, New Orleans. You are already the best and you deserve the best leader you can get.
This message paid for by the Committee to Elect Sarkozy. They agree with this message.