By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – The head of a regional planning entity wants a slot on the nine-member Tennessee Valley Authority board, saying at least one person should represent Mississippi.
Randy Kelley, executive director of the Three Rivers Planning and Development District, will send his resume to the federal government this month for consideration.
He has the support of more than six dozen cities, counties and economic, governmental and industrial associations throughout Northeast Mississippi. All have passed resolutions endorsing Kelley for the job.
The Tupelo City Council passed its own resolution Tuesday.
“I believe Mississippi should have one of the nine representatives at a minimum,” Kelley told the Daily Journal on Wednesday. “Although TVA has been very kind and worked with us on industrial projects, I feel like if Mississippi has representation, we will have a better end to all TVA services and TVA programs.”
The board hasn’t had a Mississippi member since the abrupt resignation of Columbus businessman Donald DePriest in April 2009. DePriest left amid personal legal and financial woes.
TVA board nominations originate with President Barack Obama, who then submits his picks to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.
Obama already nominated four people to fill the board’s four vacant slots, with none from Mississippi.
But a fifth slot will open in May when the term of Howard Thrailkill of Huntsville, Ala., expires.
TVA spokesman Jim Allen said he hadn’t heard Kelley’s name circulated as a potential nominee. Typically, he said, Obama will signal his intent to nominate a new board member before sending a formal request to the Senate.
The entire process can take months.
“I know it’s a long shot,” Kelley said. “But Congressman Childers has agreed to go to the White House on my behalf, as well as both senators’ offices.”
Spokeswomen for Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., affirmed the men’s support for Kelley.
“Mississippi deserves representation on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board, and Randy Kelley would be a great choice,” Wicker said in a statement. “I would be proud to submit his name to the president.”
Chris Gallegos, a spokesman for Cochran, said the senator has been pleased to work with Kelley in his role with Three Rivers and is aware of his interest in serving on the TVA board of directors. “At this point,” Gallegos said, “it is early in the nomination process and the senator looks forward to hearing from the White House on a recommendation to that board.”
TVA is based in Knoxville, Tenn., and provides power to more than 9 million people in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Its board of directors meets regularly to set policies, but members are not full-time employees. The board formerly consisted of three full-time members, but Congress changed that structure in 2005.
Kelley said he would keep his job with Three Rivers and travel for meetings on his personal time.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.