Winfield axed as attorney in Port Gibson

Published 11:33 am Friday, December 30, 2011

Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield is being replaced as attorney for the town of Port Gibson following a decision by that town’s seven-person Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“The board decided to seek a replacement, that’s their prerogative, and they asked for his resignation,” Port Gibson Mayor Fred Reeves said late Thursday, hours after Winfield made his resignation public.

Reeves did not cite a reason for the change, and board members were not available Thursday night or this morning.

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Winfield, elected mayor of Vicksburg in 2009, has been attorney for Port Gibson for six years.

Reeves said the Port Gibson board has begun interviewing candidates to replace Winfield, but their names were not made public.

Winfield, who is paid $89,340 as Vicksburg mayor and was paid at least $30,000 annually as Port Gibson attorney, said he will pursue unspecified opportunities, adding he might serve as a public-finance consultant to other Mississippi cities.

“I’ve been working with other cities in the state on public financing, both before and since I’ve been elected mayor,” he said, adding he maintains his private law practice, which specializes in public finance.

He said he has worked on public-finance projects with the Jackson Public School District and the city of Canton, but declined to give details.

He said he also has worked in government relations helping cities with grants and issues involving state government, but again, he gave no specifics.

“Some of the work was done pro bono (no fee), and some of it is done for a fee,” he said.

In addition to his annual pay, Winfield was paid $2,500 to $3,000 in fees for doing special work for Port Gibson, such as handling bond issues, Reeves said.

Winfield’s decision to remain on as Port Gibson’s attorney raised questions during and after his election in Vicksburg. He said he was not prohibited from holding both offices.

Reeves said Winfield spent about two days a month in Port Gibson, mostly attending board meetings and when he could not be there, his brother, Michael Winfield, also an attorney, took his place.

“It has been a great opportunity to represent the citizens of Port Gibson,” Paul Winfield said. “I have offered to assist them with the transition to a new attorney, and I will work with the new attorney to bring them up to date on the city’s pending legal matters. We’re leaving (Port Gibson) in pretty good shape legally.”

The new board of mayor and aldermen in Port Gibson was elected in November and sworn in last week.