County delays vote on filling slot on VCVB board

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Motions to appoint a member to the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and fill a District 3 opening on the Warren County Election Commission failed on 3-2 votes by supervisors Monday, split the same as the vote to reappoint board attorney Randy Sherard to his former post.

District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon and District 2’s William Banks supported commercial real estate broker and developer Shirley Waring for tourism board and former school trustee Pearline Williams for elections.

Instead, on a motion by District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, supervisors will advertise for someone to hold the election commission seat temporarily and set a special election. The post became vacant Jan. 1 after incumbent Patricia Reed did not seek re-election and no one qualified to be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

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Four other slots on the elections panel — which officially accepts voter registrations and prepares poll books — are filled. Three incumbents were unopposed and attorney and former supervisor Patricia “Petesy” Smith was elected in District 1.

“I told the board the choice should have come from District 3,” Selmon said later. “We have to have someone that understands the people of the district.”

The VCVB opening is the slot on the 11-member tourism board appointed with City of Vicksburg officials. It was held by Nelda Sampey, who resigned in November, and ends in August 2010.

Supervisors tacitly agreed to meet with parties with known interest in the appointment, including Waring, who also heads up the Vicksburg Blues Society, Betty Bullard, owner of the George Washington Ball House, and Mississippi River Tours co-owner Ann Jones.

The VCVB charter calls for five county and five city appointees, but has been operating without a county District 2 appointee. District 2 Supervisor William Banks has been unable to get the board to agree with his nominee and, for about two years, has declined to offer another selection. Supervisors could fill the post without Banks’ approval, but have not.

Regarding Sherard, District 5 Supervisor Richard George, board president, said Sherard’s 13 years of experience handling the county’s legal affairs will help him catch up with the county’s increased caseload.

“It’s an advantage having someone experienced handling our business,” George said. Sherard follows Paul Winfield, who served on a unanimous board vote for 2008, but on 3-2 votes for three previous years. He resigned, saying he will seek the Vicksburg mayor’s seat.

Selmon and Banks objected to Sherard’s selection, saying it was without discussion or interviews. Selmon also said Sherard’s not having the whole board’s trust and support will be a problem.

Reached after Monday’s vote, Sherard said he was “appreciative for the opportunity for public service.”

Notable active cases involving the county in the years since Sherard last served include the subdivision and floodplain ordinances and the Kings Point Ferry’s operating hours. In the former, a federal case is in discovery phase and a chancery ruling that went against the county is under appeal. In the latter, supervisors have sought a new court order that would allow sole control over operating hours.