By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Within 24 hours, a friend of Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton was appointed to the fledgling Accountability Task Force, told he’d be replaced and then informed he’ll stay.
Tupelo’s City Council approved Tupelo and Lee County NAACP President Chris Traylor to the accountability task force Tuesday along with seven other appointees. Shelton said after the meeting that he’d replace Traylor after learning the pastor does not live within Tupelo’s city limits.
The mayor changed his mind after speaking with other task force members and Traylor.
“As president of the NAACP, he speaks for so many people even though he doesn’t live in the city of Tupelo,” Shelton said. “He still fits the criteria for the committee.”
Traylor doesn’t physically live in the city but has a Tupelo mailing address.
No formal requirements exist for the mayor’s task force, although Shelton asked each council member to nominate a member to join his two at-large appointees. The group will use goals in the city’s existing comprehensive plan to measure how city efforts measure up, specifically related to residential revitalization efforts.
Shelton promised during his campaign for public office in 2013 to create the task force to encourage more open government and transparency. Besides Traylor, who is serving at-large, other members are chairman James Coniglio, a psychotherapist and retired Army colonel; David Copenhaver of Ward 1, a retired Toyota executive; attorney Reagan Wise of Ward 2; Sherry Ashley of Ward 3, president of the Lee Acres Neighborhood Association; Gunner Goad of Ward 4, AT&T’s regional director of external affairs; Susan Griffin of Ward 5, a real estate agent for Tommy Morgan Inc. Realtors; poet and author Patricia Neely-Dorsey of Ward 6 and Ron Richardson of Ward 7, associate pastor at Tupelo First Presbyterian Church.
It turns out not all other members reside in Tupelo. Councilman Mike Bryan nominated Neely-Dorsey, who lives in Saltillo.