Former Assistant City Attorney Freddie Charbonnet was selected as the interim District E councilman at a special meeting of the City Council July 26. Charbonnet replaces Jon Johnson, who stepped down from the office July 18 after pleading guilty to federal charges of funneling FEMA funds into his failed campaign for the state Senate in 2007.
The candidates for the interim position were Sankofa Community Development Corporation founder and executive director Rashida Ferdinand, businessman Ronald Carrere, lawyer Michael Darnell (who served as interim councilman after Oliver Thomas pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and resigned in 2007) and Charbonnet.
Carrere — considered by some to be the early favorite — withdrew his name before the early morning vote, as did Ferdinand. Sources say Carrere pulled out of contention after meeting with At-Large Councilwoman Stacy Head.
With only Charbonnet and Darnell remaining, the council selected Charbonnet in a 4-2 vote. Council members Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, Susan Guidry, Kristin Gisleson Palmer and Head, who increasingly vote as a bloc on the council, were in favor; Diana Bajoie and Cynthia Hedge-Morrell were opposed.
Charbonnet, a lawyer in private practice, will serve until a winner is determined by a special election Nov. 6 (Dec. 8 if a runoff is necessary). He cannot run in that race. Had Ferdinand been selected instead, New Orleans would have had an all-female City Council for the first time in its history. — staff reports
Passing the gavel
Head could be City Council president Aug. 9
Councilwoman At-Large Stacy Head is slated to take over the council presidency next month from current president Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson. Danielle Viguerie, Head's director of communications, says Clarkson plans to call for a vote to hand over the presidency during the council's regular meeting Aug. 9.
The two at-large council members typically take turns serving one-year terms as president, starting in May of each year. Clarkson has been the council's presiding officer since May 2011. Council members thus could have elected Head to the position following her May 2 oath of office as the new at-large member, but instead they re-elected Clarkson and named Head vice-president.
The reason for the delay? Viguerie says Head wanted to polish up on parliamentary procedure before taking over as council president and has been taking a class on Robert's Rules of Order.
— Charles Maldonado