Not bound by any law to do otherwise, the Grady County Board of Commissioners moved away from the practice of rotating the chairmanship and vice chairmanship of the board based on the tenure of individual commissioners in an awkward start to 2020 this week.
District 3 Commissioner Keith Moye, who served as vice chairman during 2019, was unanimously and unsurprisingly elected chairman for 2020, but when it came to nominate a vice chair, things got hairy.
District 4 Commissioner LaFaye Copeland, who served in 2019 as the chairwoman, nominated District 1 Commissioner June Knight as vice chair. The nomination of Knight was in keeping with tradition since she was in line to serve as vice chair.
However, when commissioners were asked to vote on the nomination of Knight, only Copeland cast a vote in favor while District 2 Commissioner Ray Prince and District 5 Commissioner Phillip Drew remained silent.
Prince then stated that the board had been discussing the possibility of making changes to how the chairman and vice chairman are selected and the length of the terms in leadership positions.
“It takes about a month of more every time we do it to get all the paperwork changed,” Commissioner Prince said. He said that the chairman and vice chairman are the signatories on the county’s checking accounts and each January new signature cards have to be executed and the names on the county’s check writing equipment has to be updated. The District 2 commissioner said he felt that the board should do something different so that all of those changes did not have to be made each and every year.
The suggestion of two-year terms for chairman and vice chairman has been batted around, according to Prince, and the District 2 commissioner advised against the board placing two commissioners up for reelection in the same year as chairman and vice chairman.
With her nomination failing to gain support of a majority, Commissioner Copeland said she was not opposed to changing the board’s procedures, but said it was something that should be discussed further before a final decision was made. Although Moye and Copeland’s names are both already on bank records and the check writing equipment, Commissioner Copeland said she was not interested in serving as vice chairman in 2020.
Commissioner Prince also said he was not interested in serving as vice chairman, leaving only Knight or District 5 Commissioner Phillip Drew.
Commissioner Copeland questioned if Commissioner Drew could serve as vice chairman when he had not completed his certification as a county commissioner.
Grady County Administrator J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, said that he believed Drew would be eligible to serve, but said he would verify that. Johnson suggested that if it was the board’s desire to appoint Commissioner Drew as vice chairman it could be done contingent on his eligibility to serve.
Commissioner Copeland then nominated Commissioner Drew and it was supported by the majority of the board.
“It’s nothing personal against you, June. It would just help with paperwork and all,” Commissioner Prince said.
“Well, I certainly take it that way. I don’t see what the difference is,” Commissioner Knight responded.
The board then moved forward in unanimously reappointing County Clerk John White and County Attorney Gabe Ridley to their respective posts for 2020.
Vice Chairman Drew was named the county’s representative to the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission board and Chairman Keith Moye and Administrator Johnson were appointed to serve as the county’s representatives of the Golden Triangle RC&D board.
Chairman Moye requested to remain the county’s representative on the Decatur-Grady 911 committee and also asked for incumbent committee member Chris Dorsey to be reappointed, which the board unanimously approved.
“I appreciate the support and everyone’s confidence,” Chairman Moye said Tuesday morning following his appointment as chairman. He also announced some changes and requests for the new year.
“I’m kind of old school, so I’m going to ask that no one wears hats or caps in the board room. Also, beginning in February we will have a sign-in sheet for public participation and we would like for you to sign up and designate the topic you wish to speak on. The clerk will call on you to speak in order of who signed up and we would ask you to stay on topic. You will still have your three minutes and we will begin that in February,” Chairman Moye said.
Moye then opened the floor for public participation. Peter Wright, a frequent speaker at commission meetings, took issue with the selection of the vice chairmanship.
Wright said he was “shocked” at the board changing its procedure. He suggested that “big money” did not like the idea of Commissioner Knight becoming chairman next year. He said that she is the only commissioner who has “squeaked up on the big smash and grab,” which is how he described Tired Creek Lake.
Late Tuesday, Johnson confirmed that Drew was eligible to serve as vice chairman prior to completing all of the required training for certification. “It has nothing to do with certification. He serves at the pleasure of the board,” the county administrator said.