By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tupelo City Council members will likely make history today by selecting Ward 4 councilwoman Nettie Davis as council president, the first woman and African-American to hold the position.
Beginning her fourth term on the City Council, Davis, a retired art teacher and self-described community activist, has more seniority than any other council member currently serving. With years of municipal training through the Mississippi Municipal League, Davis has spoken openly about wanting the leadership position.
That day may have come for Davis.
“Most of the council members have said they’ll support me,” she said Monday. “But I don’t want to say too much about it until it happens.”
The president leads council meetings and assumes duties of the mayor in his absence, along with attending city department head meetings. The position also pays an additional $3,000 annually.
During the previous term, Ward 2 councilman Fred Pitts served as council president each year. During the last term, the council decided to alternate members as president, similar to the Lee County Board of Supervisors.
One of only two Democrats serving on the seven member City Council, Davis seems to have gained widespread support from council members regardless of party affiliation.
Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell, a Republican, who seconded Pitts as president four years ago, said Davis deserves the position.
“She’s been on the council for the longest time,” Newell said. “I won’t hesitate to make the nomination.”
Councilmen Lynn Bryan of Ward 2 and Buddy Palmer of Ward 5, both Republicans beginning their first term, also voiced support for Davis as president.
“She’s been there the longest and it’s time,” Palmer said.
Bryan and other council members have suggested a policy of having council person elected vice president serve as president the following year. The second-most tenured council member is Mike Bryan of Ward 6, who has also has never served as president.
Lynn Bryan said he’ll support Mike Bryan for vice president, position him and Davis for leadership roles.
“They’ve been on there the longest and never had the opportunity,” Lynn Bryan said. “Let’em do it.”