Pitts stays as council president

TUPELO – Fred Pitts is Tupelo City Council’s president for a second year and Nettie Davis continues as vice president.
By municipal resolution, the council must decide at its first meeting in July whether to keep its current officers or hold a new election.
No election was held at Tuesday’s regular meeting, leaving the two officers in place.
Ward 4′s Davis made a motion to amend the municipal resolution and hold the election July 20 because Jim Newell of Ward 3 was absent, leaving only six of the seven council members at the meeting.
Davis’ motion received only three votes, including those of Markel Whittington (Ward 1) and Mike Bryan (Ward 6). Pitts (Ward 2), Jonny Davis (Ward 5) and Willie Jennings (Ward 7) voted against it.
After Davis’ motion failed, no council member made a motion for an election, leaving the current two officers in place for a second year.
“You always want it to be unanimous, but it is never going to be,” Pitts said. “I will work with the ones who were not in favor to find out what I can do better to serve.”
Two weeks ago, council members held a nonbinding straw poll for officers, but were unable to break a tie. Three members voted for Pitts, three voted for Bryan and Nettie Davis voted for herself.
“I feel with me being a female, I’m not going to be given a chance,” said Nettie Davis, who has served on the council for 11 years. “I feel discriminated against because I have more experience than anyone on the council.
“In Tupelo, the presidents each time are hand-picked instead of allowing the council to do it, and to me, that is not fair.”
Bryan said he believes that the council’s will is to rotate the position of president.
“We have four members of the council who want to rotate it around,” Bryan said. “The wishes of the council are not being done.
“They also took away Ward 3′s voice on this issue and it is a crucial, major issue.”
The council president officiates at all twice-monthly meetings and is typically expected to attend all municipal functions and work closely with the mayor. The president’s $19,932 salary is $3,000 higher than that of other council members, which is meant to compensate for additional work.
“Any time you are in a leadership position for one year, there are things you would like to accomplish that are hard to do in one year,” Pitts said.
The issue could divide a council that had been noted for its unity over the past year. But Pitts said he didn’t think any animosity would linger.
“It’s another vote,” he said. “We’ve had other votes where the council did not vote the same.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal