Cantrell's mother was a social worker and her father worked for General Motors. After her mother was laid off and her father left the family, she moved to Palmdale, California to live with her mother's mother. Meanwhile, she spent her summers in Birmingham with her father's parents, and they supported her education at Xavier University in New Orleans. She began as a pre-medical major, but switched to sociology. After completing her bachelor of science, she began working for a non-profit. She married attorney Jason Cantrell in 1999 and moved to the Broadmoor neighborhood.
Cantrell was serving as president of the Broadmoor Improvement Association when flooding from Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. She led the neighborhood's recovery efforts and fended off plans to redevelop the area as a drainage channel.
In 2012 Cantrell ran in a special election to represent District B on the New Orleans City Council. She championed a no smoking ordinance for the benefit of service workers and supported city programs to help marginalized residents with housing assistance, education and entrepreneurship. She was unopposed in the 2014 election for a full term on the council.
In the city's 2017 mayoral election, Cantrell and Desiree Charbonnet advanced to a runoff, which Cantrell won by a 20-point margin.
- Grace, Stephanie (November 19, 2017) "Grace Notes: In LaToya Cantrell, New Orleans chooses a fighter for its next mayor." New Orleans Advocate
- "Who is LaToya Cantrell? The backstory of New Orleans' mayor-elect." (November 19, 2017) The New Orleans Times-Picayune
- "LaToya Cantrell" (November 20, 2017) Wikipedia - accessed November 21, 2017
- LaToya Cantrell campaign website