By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A day after being sworn in for a four-year term, Tupelo’s elected officials continued their honeymoon at the City Council’s first meeting, moving quickly through a light agenda without a single dissenting vote.
Council members and Mayor Jason Shelton seemed to fall over each other with optimism and compliments during the meeting Monday. But nothing received more applause than the unanimous council action to select four-term Ward 4 council member Nettie Davis as president of the council.
The vote making Davis leader of the council marks historic firsts for Tupelo, which now has its first African-American and woman leader for municipal policy-making body.
Walking toward her new seat where the president sits, her wide smile beamed to a standing ovation.
“I’m going to be a president to represent the whole city,” said Davis, a retired art teacher with the Tupelo Public School District. “I’m very humbled for y’all to have considered me for this position.”
As president, Davis will represent the council at city department head meetings, serve on behalf of the mayor when he isn’t available and help prepare agendas for and run council meetings.
Each of the other council members heaped praise for Davis.
“As a new person on the council, I look forward to serving with all of y’all, but in particular under your leadership,” Ward 5 Councilman Buddy Palmer said.
Shelton, attending his first Council meeting as mayor, said he looked forward to council leadership from Davis. With a City Council comprised of five Republicans and two Democrats, the new mayor looked at the vote as sign of unity.
“I think it is a tremendous actual and symbolic sign of respect of other council members to recognize her,” Shelton said. “It’s a very strong sign of the council’s willingness to set aside differences.”
The council also voted as vice president the second-most tenured member of the body, Mike Bryan of Ward 6.
During the rest of the meeting, the council approved basic housekeeping actions such as when the council will pay city bills and a schedule for the Fiscal Year 2014 budgeting process.
Heading into a term full of issues related to helping Tupelo improve quality of life for residents and attract more businesses to employ more workers, disagreements are bound to emerge.
Council members enjoyed their first meeting, sensing the harmony won’t follow in every meeting.
“I wish they would but I don’t think so,” Davis said after the meeting, still smiling.