by Clancy DuBos
At-Large New Orleans Councilman Arnie Fielkow will resign his post effective Oct. 1 to take a high-profile position in the sports world — a move he had hoped to make for some time. Fielkow will become CEO of the NBA Retired Players Association, which is headquartered in Chicago.
Fielkow will officially announce his departure at 11 a.m. today (Monday, Aug. 22). Read his full statement HERE.
His resignation is sure to touch off a political war to succeed him. An interim council member will be appointed by the current council, probably with the proviso that the appointee not seek election to the seat, as per custom.
Among those potentially interested in running for the job are District B Council member Stacy Head, District D Council member Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, and state Sen. Cynthia Willard-Lewis, a former District E council member who twice ran for (and lost) an at-large seat on the council. No doubt others will run as well.
It's not clear when the special election to succeed Fielkow will be called, but its timing will be a huge factor in determining who wins — and whether it will lead to a restoration of the traditional racial balance among the two at-large council members. For 31 years starting in 1976, New Orleanians elected one African American and one white at-large council member. That ended in 2007 when Jackie Clarkson won the special election to succeed Oliver Thomas, who resigned that summer to plead guilty to a federal bribery charge. Clarkson and Fielkow (who defeated Clarkson to win his at-large seat in 2006) both won re-election to their at-large seats in 2010. Clarkson is now term limited in her seat.
Fielkow will move to Chicago to take his new position, but he told me that "New Orleans will always be home." He said he plans to stay involved in efforts to rebuild NORD — and he promised to bring NBA players to town to help in that effort.