TUPELO – City of Tupelo Chief Operations Officer Darrell Smith will not be among existing department heads nominated to keep their jobs, and Parks and Recreation director Don Lewis is his likely replacement.
Mayor Jason Shelton said Friday he could not yet comment on specific positions or people but said he has spoken with all current department heads to let them know whether to expect to keep their jobs under his administration.
While Shelton wouldn’t comment, multiple sources familiar with the mayor’s decision have confirmed that Lewis will be nominated to serve as COO in Shelton’s administration.
“I intend to make all of them public at the Oct. 1 council meeting and will spend part of next week discussing my decisions with council members,” the mayor said. “It’s a difficult process that you just have to pray about and give a lot of consideration.”
Calls by the Daily Journal to Smith’s city-issued cellphone were not returned late Friday afternoon. When reached by the Daily Journal, Lewis declined to comment.
Smith began his tenure with the city in former Mayor Larry Otis’ administration in 2004 and continued in that position under multiple city administrations.
Hired in 1997 during the administration of former Mayor Jack Marshall, Lewis began employment with the city as sports director with Parks and Recreation but had previously volunteered in the city department to help with scheduling of sports games.
Even with changes expected in Parks and Recreation and the COO position, Shelton said his administration will have many familiar faces.
“By and large, the majority of the department heads will return,” he said.
Appointments to city department head positions are considered among the most important a mayor will make. Leaders in these positions will help carry out Shelton’s agenda, which includes finding ways to help attract and retain middle-income families to the city.
As for other department heads, Shelton recently appointed an interim director of public works, Chuck Williams, who had served as traffic control supervisor in the department. Sid Russell, current public works director, will formally retire in mid-October and will use vacation time until then.
Shelton has informally confirmed plans to nominate City Clerk Kim Hanna and Chief Financial Officer Lynn Norris to their positions.
All department head nominations must be confirmed by the City Council.
A new position in Tupelo municipal government, an in-house city attorney also is expected to be nominated by Shelton on Oct. 1.
Other department heads whose job status hasn’t been made known are Johnny Timmons, director of Tupelo Water & Light; Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton; Fire Chief Thomas Walker; BJ Teal, director of development services and Cassandra Moore, city personnel director.