With retiring councilman Reggie Copeland’s office being cleared out on the ninth floor of Government Plaza, the other councilors are determining who will fill his position as City Council president and who will be council vice president.
Copeland was council president for 12 years.
Multiple sources close to the process said there is a clear choice for president and it would mark a first for Mobile. District 7 Councilwoman Gina Gregory is likely to be voted in as the first female council president in Mobile’s history on Nov. 4 at 10:30 a.m. If so, she would move past Councilman Fred Richardson, who has openly stated his desire to hold the president’s gavel on the new council.
“I am running for Council President, and I would be honored to be selected by my colleagues for this position,” Gregory said in an email, confirming her interest in the position.
The council president runs the meetings and typically sets the tone for the meetings. The position is also paid $500 more per month than other councilors, and the president would become mayor if Sandy Stimpson were unable to fulfill his term for some reason.
Sources said the vice presidency is shaping up to be the real fight.
The two frontrunners for the vice presidency are District 6 Councilwoman Bess Rich and Richardson, who has served as the vice president since 2005.
Rich says she is “very interested” in the council’s vice president position and feels it is time for a woman and her district to be represented in the position.
“District 6 has never had a leadership role on the council,” she said.
She pointed out that Richardson has held the vice president’s position for two terms and it’s time to pass it on to someone else. As for whether not having an African-American in one of the two top council positions would be troubling, Rich said women are long overdue to hold positions of power on the council.
“Women are minorities in the city power structure,” she said.
Richardson was not as vocal on the matter. When asked about Gregory likely being the next president, he said, “whoever said that must have more insight than me.”
He did say he was interested in being president or remaining vice president.
Newcomer Joel Daves, who will take over for Copeland and represent District 5, said he would make comments after the vote on Nov. 4.
District 4 Councilman John Williams said he wouldn’t comment on who is voting for yet, but he is not interested in either position.
“I have too many other responsibilities to do justice to either position. I have my kids and other civic responsibilities,” he said.
Williams said he would explain his votes on Nov. 4.
Soon to be District 2 Councilman Levon Manzie said he would support Richardson to become president.
“There are two reasons for my support. First, historically, the vice president has ascended to the position. That’s what happened with Clinton Johnson and Reggie Copeland,” he said. “Secondly, Fred asked me for his support first. My vote for him is not anything against Mrs. Gregory. I think the decision should allow for the vice president to ascend.”
The other councilors did not return calls immediately.