Tupelo council mulls top position

TUPELO – The City Council could elect a new president Tuesday after an internal straw poll revealed a desire for change.
By municipal resolution, the council must decide at the first meeting in July whether to keep its current officers or hold a new election. Fred Pitts of Ward 2 currently serves as president, and Nettie Davis of Ward 4 as vice president.
But some members said they favor a rotating presidency, which is how the Lee County Board of Supervisors operates. Each year, the vice president moves up to the head seat and someone else then becomes vice president.
“I think it should be rotated,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington. “It’s just fair that way.”
Pitts, a first-term councilman, has said he wants to keep his position. Both Davis, in her third term, and Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan, in his second term, also want a shot.
Last week, the seven-member council held a nonbinding straw poll for president and vice president. Members submitted their individual choices to council Clerk Glenda Muse.
Muse and city attorney John Hill counted them in hopes of a majority winner. The winner would then be recommended and voted on during the council’s Tuesday meeting, making it official.
Instead, Pitts and Bryan tied for the presidency. Davis won vice president.
The council members were attending an out-of-town conference, and neither Davis or Bryan could immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Pitts said he’d hoped the group could have reached a consensus before Tuesday; now he doesn’t know what will happen.
“If a motion to hold new elections passes, there will be a new election,” Hill said. “If not, the incumbents remain in office.”
The council president officiates at all twice-monthly council meetings and typically is expected to attend all municipal functions and work closely with the mayor.
Council presidents’ salaries also are slightly higher: Regular council members earn $16,932 annually; presidents get $19,932.
It’s more than just holding the gavel, Pitts said. “I figure it takes me … 10-15 hours a week minimum that I spend over and above council meetings and work sessions.”

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal