Issues with communication between the Mobile City Council and Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office could result in a new council president when leadership positions are voted on Monday, Nov. 6.
Councilman John Williams initially complained about a lack of communication between the council and the mayor’s office. Williams wouldn’t declare who he would choose for the positions of council president and vice president, but suggested he would cast a vote for anyone who could fix the communication issues.
“I think we need a different approach to the interaction from our offices and the mayor,” he said. “Whoever can convince me they can accomplish that will get my vote.”
Williams said there has been no communication between the two sides and he’s “extremely worried” about it.
Council Vice President Fred Richardson claimed Stimpson’s office has withheld information from him in the past. For example, he said he’s asked about the number of executive secretaries in Stimpson’s office and how much each is paid. He also referenced information about the parks and recreation department that he had not received.
If Richardson were council president, he said, he’d use the council’s power to subpoena records from the administration to ensure members could get the information they requested.
“I don’t think it’ll change until council puts its foot down,” Richardson said.
Councilman Levon Manzie said communication needs to improve on both ends. Council President Gina Gregory wrote in an email that she has no issues receiving requested information from the administration.
“I’ve never had a problem communicating with the administration,” Gregory wrote. “Whether it’s an email, text or phone call, they get back to me including the mayor, his chief of staff or other members of the administration.”
City spokesman George Talbot said the administration has had discussions with Gregory about specific things that can improve communication, but overall it’s good. Specifically, Talbot said councilors have suggested the two parties hold a retreat.
On the issue of becoming president for this upcoming term, Richardson said he’d be honored to be elected but has not discussed it with his colleagues. Gregory has held the position since 2013.
Richardson said he’s been the council’s vice president for 12 years and this would be his last term on the council. Richardson had expected to be president when Reggie Copeland retired four years ago, but said he was “thrown to the wind” by colleagues who elected Gregory.
On the issue of council leadership, Gregory and Manzie each said they’d know more on Nov. 6 when the votes roll in.