The Daphne City Council has a new president, as well as the fourth representative in District 7 in three and a half years, following the appointment of Angie Phillips to the seat in the city’s northernmost district after the resignation of former councilman Joe Davis in September.
Phillips was selected by the council over business broker and Wise Technology LLC President J. Ernest Scarbrough at the council’s Nov. 2 meeting. Phillips and Scarbrough were the only candidates who applied. She was sworn in Nov. 9.
A former revenue officer with the city, Phillips said she initially intended to encourage others to seek the District 7 seat. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized she wanted to serve.
“I didn’t immediately think about myself. I kept trying to think of someone who loves and is invested in the city, and that’s me,” Phillips said. “I’ve had this desire to serve all my life. From a young age, I have always enjoyed interacting with people and serving others. That’s my nature.”
District 7 has seen its share of turnover in the last few years. Davis was appointed to the seat in 2013 when Dane Haygood vacated the position, having been appointed mayor following the death of former mayor Bailey Yelding. Haygood won the seat in 2012, defeating two-term incumbent August Palumbo in the municipal elections that year.
Davis was selected over five other candidates at the time. Davis resigned in September in protest of the council’s rejection of the Daphne Innovation and Science Complex (DISC) project. Davis was the council’s liaison to the Industrial Development Board (IDB), which advocated for the project.
Phillips said she doesn’t know if she will seek the seat in the 2016 municipal election, but she will use the next year to gauge her interest. She acknowledged some conflict on the council following a divisive DISC vote and Davis’ resignation, something she hopes to be able to change.
“I want to try to help preserve what I love about Daphne, and that means trying to bring some unity back to the council,” she said. “This is a great opportunity to do something positive for Daphne.”
District 7 encompasses areas generally north of U.S. Highway 90 and parts of Timber Creek. Currently, it also catches the northernmost section of the Lake Forest subdivision, but a proposed redistricting plan would pull it out of that neighborhood.
A graduate of the University of South Alabama with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, Phillips is currently a bookkeeper at Spanish Fort High School, where she maintains financial records for academics, athletics, fine arts, grants, state allocations and student organizations.
But Phillips said her time as a revenue officer for the city gave her the confidence to apply for the council seat.
“That gave the opportunity to see government in action for the first time,” she said. “I was intrigued, and motivated, to be a part of it.”
She has volunteered 12 years as a PTA board member, and has also spent time as a board member of the Eastern Shore Parents Aquatic Foundation and served on the board at the Junior Chamber of Commerce’s (Mobile Jaycees) Azalea Trail and Festival.
While her predecessor, Davis, served as the council’s IDB liaison, Phillips said the council is in the process of deciding which boards each member will serve in the coming year. She said her husband, Paul, is a firefighter for the city of Mobile, lending to her interest in public safety.
“I know firsthand just what our public safety officers do to sacrifice for others,” she said.
Daphne City Council President Pat Rudicell said he looks forward to working with Phillips for the the rest of the term, which ends next year.
“I think she was a really qualified, good candidate,” Rudicell said. “She will be a great benefit to the city.”
Rudicell chaired his first work session as council president Nov. 9. It’s his first term on the council after defeating incumbent Cathy Barnette in the 2012 municipal elections. He took over the president’s gavel from District 1 representative Tommie Conaway, who held the position for the previous year.
“It will be a little extra work for me and I’ll have more opportunities to interact with the mayor,” Rudicell said. “It is kind of like a rotating position. We have one person who hasn’t done it yet because he chose not to and another who hasn’t served because he doesn’t have the support.”
At its Nov. 9 work session the council unveiled details about its proposed redistricting plan for the first time, a plan Rudicell said he has great interest in. The council president said redistricting is an important issue that has been misconstrued by some members of the public as a plan to disenfranchise voters. Rudicell contends some of the pushback isn’t based on facts, but on a stubborn unwillingness to listen.
“We are trying to even out our districts and balance the scales for everyone,” Rudicell said. “There are some people who have their own interests at heart and they have this idea that we are trying to harm a segment of the population, which just isn’t true. Even when we present the facts — like we did at the work session — some people still choose not to believe it.”