County may fill District 1 seat in early January

Published 5:20 pm Friday, December 21, 2012

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners may appoint a new commissioner for District 1 before the first regular board meeting of the 2013 year.

During a called meeting Friday morning, commissioners discussed the process of appointing someone to fill the seat that is currently held by District 1 Commissioner Dr. Earl Perry. Perry is resigning from the seat on Dec. 31, and state law allows for the remaining board members to appoint a Decatur County citizen to fill the remainder of Perry’s term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2014.

Earlier this month, the county voted to advertise the open seat and invite any citizen to apply for consideration. The only criteria are that the citizen must reside in District 1, must be a registered voter, and must be at least 21 years old.

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As of late Friday afternoon, six applicants had expressed interest in the open seat. They are Jack Dodd, Debbie Elkins, Charles Fitzgerald, Jan Godwin, David Holt and Albert Scott.

A new board will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013, with Perry and current District 3 Commissioner Dr. Charles Stafford coming off the board, and new District 3 Commissioner Dennis Brinson taking Stafford’s place. Perry suggested that the new board should hold a special called meeting sometime before Tuesday, Jan. 8, which is the date of the board’s first regular meeting of 2013.

“I guess you can say that I’m begging that you have somebody from District 1, who could be seated before the business of the county takes place on Jan. 8,” he said. “But I understand that’s the holiday season and it may be impossible to do.”

Although the county took no formal action toward scheduling such a meeting, they did discuss how it could be handled. Stafford recommended that the commissioners could first give statements about what they are looking for in an ideal candidate, and then the candidates could give short statements about why they feel they are a good fit for the position.

Following the statements, the commissioners would then vote for their preferred candidate.

Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely expressed some concerns about discussing the candidates publicly, especially if they were in the audience at the meeting.

“I’ll sit up here and talk about the merits of the candidates,” he said. “But I’m not going to talk about things I might not like about the candidates, when they might be sitting out there in the public. Nobody in their right mind is going to do that.”

However, Stafford pointed out that he didn’t feel any “negative” discussions would need to take place.

“It would just be a member of the board expressing their interests and desires toward the type of candidate needed,” he said. “We all know what kind of person we would like to have working with us.”

Mosely said he wanted to be clear that he had no problems with a public vote, but he was just concerned that some candidates might be embarrassed if their pros and cons were discussed publicly.

Kelvin Bouie, who is a member of the Decatur County Board of Education and a citizen in District 1, asked the board to take the selection process seriously, when he spoke during the public participation portion of Friday’s meeting.

“We want you to look at these candidates real hard and make sure they can reach across the board and accommodate all people in District 1, and not just a selected group,” he said.