Mayor Chuck Espy said he is fighting cronyism in Clarksdale and will open up his appointments to the Clarksdale Public Utility board to a public vote and his appointment to the Clarksdale Municipal School District to a decision by students at the high school.
Espy unveiled his decision at Monday’s city board meeting and then explained if further at the city’s community forum that night at the City Auditorium in front of seven people from the community.
Espy said he campaigned on the platform of doing away with the appointment of friends and associates to positions or authority without proper regard to their qualifications.
“We have to be a trendsetter and no longer follow trends,” said Espy. “I propose to no longer sit by and watch stagnation.”
Clarksdale Superintendent Joe Nelson said at the city’s board meeting he was not prepared to speak on the issue.
“This process is new to me and it could be good for our city and schools,” said Nelson. “Our board makes all decisions based on what is best for students and not adults.”
Commissioners and mayor each appoint a member to the CMSD Board of Trustees on a staggered term with a new appointment each year. Mayor Espy’s appointment is slated for March.
Under Espy’s proposal the city will begin taking applications for his appointments to CPU and CMSD boards immediately and stop taking names on Feb. 7.
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.
Espy said he will take those applications and choose five applicants. He said the incumbent will automatically be 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.
Espy said candidates for the school board post will follow the same process but the debate will be held at the high school and the vote then taken there. He said state testing schedules will determine the date of the vote.
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.