Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy will let the masses decide his appointments to two critical boards in the community and has picked his candidates.
Espy unveiled his decision at a Clarksdale city board meeting in January and has repeatedly said opening up city appointments with a public vote was a campaign promise. Espy said appointments are often used to reward political friends and this is a new way to name board member to the Clarksdale Public Utility board and the Clarksdale Municipal School District board.
“I think this will be a wonderful experience for the city,” said Espy. “This is an exercise of first encounters and things are going smoothly.”
Espy said in January he seeks to be a trendsetter and won’t sit by and watch the community stagnate.
Candidates picked by Espy to be chosen by the public are:
• James Hicks: (incumbent) Businessman.
• Freddie Davis: Teacher.
• Anna Jones: Clinic Director.
• Kenneth Gooden: (incumbent) Businessman.
• Cedell Brownlee: Consultant.
• Zedric Clayton: Minister.
• YoKeyna R. Miller: Teacher.
Commissioners and mayor each appoint a member to the CMSD Board of Trustees on a staggered term with a new appointment each year. Commissioner will continue to make their appointments and will not be elected. Mayor Espy’s appointment is slated for March.
Espy explained the process last month at a public forum at the Clarksdale City Auditorium.
Applicants for the CPU board must be a city resident and qualified voter, not be employed by the city, state or CPU and agree to a background check.
Applicants for the school board must also be a city resident and qualified voter, not be employed by the city, state or CPU and agree to a background check. If the person seeking the post has school aged children they must go to Clarksdale Municipal School District.
Under Espy’s proposal the city took applications for his appointments to CPU and CMSD boards immediately and stopped taking names on Feb. 7. Espy took those applications and chose a slate of candidates. He said the incumbent on the CPU and CMSD boards were automatically one of the applicants chosen.
Espy said residents will be invited back to the Auditorium on April 13 for a debate among CPU candidates. He said a vote would be taken after the debate.
Exactly who would count votes and how voters would be deemed qualified to vote has not been explained.
Espy said candidates for the school board post will follow the same process but the debate will be held at the high school Feb. 28 and at 9 a.m., 10th, 11th and 12th graders will vote for the mayor’s next school district appointment.
Clarksdale Public Utility board members are paid $500 a month, plus expenses.
Clarksdale Municipal School District board members are paid $200 a month, plus expenses.
The CMSD Board of Trustees is composed of:
Ward 1: Clay Stillions
Ward 2: Joan Morris
Ward 3: Delores S. Harris
Ward 4: Sherley Fields
Mayor: Kenneth Gooden
Board members are chosen for 5-year terms with one member’s term expiring each year. The term of office begins the first Saturday in March.
The school board meets at 5 p.m., the third Thursday of each month, at the Central Office. Board meetings are open to the public.
CPU Board of Commissioners is composed of:
Ward 1: George Miller
Ward 2: Dr. James Humber
Ward 3: Adrian Allen
Ward 4: Donald Mitchell
Mayor: James Hicks.
CPU Commissioners are appointed to five-year terms and may be reappointed when their term expires.
CPU Commissioners represent the citizens of Clarksdale and are entrusted with overseeing the activities of the General Manager and CPU Administration. Board meetings are held at 4:15 p.m., the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, at the Carraway Building. Board meetings are open to the public.