At least two members of the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System Board of Commissioners have a problem with the process involved with selecting officers.
Former Mayor Sam Jones and his former aide and current State Rep. Barbara Drummond, now a state representative for House District 103, both of whom were appointed to the MAWSS board in 2014, contested the nomination of officers at a recent meeting.
The meeting resulted in the election of Maynard Odom as board chairman, James Laier as vice chairman and Pat Tyrrell as secretary-treasurer, but both Jones and Drummond voted against those nominations, according to minutes from the Oct. 19 meeting.
Odom, Laier and Tyrrell were selected by the board’s officer nominating committee, which comprises two of the three new officers. According to minutes from the Oct. 19 board meeting, Drummond called the process “pretty odd.”
“My objection is there are members now in office who were members of the committee,” Drummond said in a subsequent interview. “How do you, as a committee, nominate yourselves?”
Jones told the board allowing the committee members to nominate themselves creates a “factional board” that isn’t in the best interest of the administration, or the system’s operation. He said he “prayed” for the board in hopes it was “some consolation.”
After hearing the complaints, Odom clarified any board member is welcome to nominate officers. So before a vote, Jones nominated Drummond for vice chairwoman, according to the minutes.
But ultimately, the board voted 5-2 for Odom as chairman and 5-2 for Laier for vice chairman. Drummond and Jones were the dissenting votes on each. Because of the consensus, a vote for Drummond as vice chairwoman never took place, according to the minutes.
Tyrrell was selected as secretary-treasurer by a 6-1 vote with only Drummond dissenting.
Later, Drummond called for more transparency in the process because it wasn’t clear how the nominating committee reached its recommendations. She also suggested having the officer positions rotate among the seven-member board to prevent the same members from being elected for multiple terms.
She noted the elected officers had been officers previously. For instance, Odom has been elected chairman three times since being appointed to the board in 2007, according to a MAWSS statement.
MAWSS Director Charles Hyland said the three-member nominating committee is appointed by the sitting board chair. In a process that was established six or seven years ago, the committee is charged with bringing back a slate of candidates for the board to approve. In prior years, the positions rotated among members.