Aldermen face tough decision in replacing Steckler

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2000

With the death of Dr. David Steckler this week, the Natchez Board of Aldermen will soon be looking for a new person to serve on the Natchez-Adams School Board.

As of yet, aldermen have not had time to discuss the matter. The board of aldermen meets at 11 a.m. Tuesday at city council chambers on South Pearl Street.

&uot;There has really been no discussion about this with the board,&uot; Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown said this week.

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But Brown said he hopes to have someone in place by July. &uot;It should not be put off, in my opinion,&uot; he said.

The district needs a full school board without any vacancies in its membership, Brown said.

Steckler died Monday after a long battle with cancer.

He served on the school board from the mid-1990s until his death and was reappointed to another term on the school board in May.

But the board of aldermen actually began considering the appointment in January or February, Brown said.

When aldermen reappointed Steckler in May, some board members said the city should have waited until a new city administration takes over in July. New mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith and new Ward 2 Alderman James &uot;Ricky&uot; Gray take office July 1.

The city does not have a pool of people in mind for the vacant spot, but there were some other names debated at the time Steckler was reappointed, Brown said.

Alderman Jake Middleton said it could take some time or several months before the board would be ready to fill the vacancy.

&uot;I think that’s something we will have to address in the near future,&uot; Middleton said, adding he would need time to investigate candidates before placing someone on the board.

For some officials in Natchez, it may be too soon after Steckler’s death to discuss the matter.

&uot;It’s too early to deal with that,&uot;&160;said&160;Ward 4 Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sue Stedman said she needed more time to consider the issue, but she thinks the city will appoint someone once aldermen

find the right person.

&uot;I personally have not given any thought to who that new person might be at this point,&uot; Stedman said, adding she hopes people interested in serving will let aldermen know.

She has no preference for whether the appointment takes place this month or after the new administration takes over in July.

Alderman David Massey said it is too soon to appoint a replacement but the board will eventually take that action.

&uot;I know we’re all thinking of names right now (of people) who would be best for the children of Natchez,&uot; he said.

And many officials said filling Steckler’s position could be difficult.

&uot;I don’t know of a way we could ever replace Dr. Steckler,&uot; Middleton said. &uot;Dr. Steckler, obviously, will be sorely missed by our community.&uot;

Since running a school district is much like running a business &uot;I would love to see someone with a four-year degree minimum and someone with a business background,&uot; Middleton said.

Issues such as race should not play a factor, Middleton said. &uot;I’m going to put the most qualified person I can find on there,&uot; he said.

School board member Terry Estes agreed Steckler is going to be difficult to replace.

&uot;He was so good on the board,&uot; Estes said.

The board needs someone like Steckler, who understood policy and business and &uot;knows how to be a board member and not micro manage the district,&uot; Estes said.

Other people will be good board members, but &uot;you’re not going to find anybody else like him,&uot; Estes said.

The city should pick the best person for the board, and that should be someone with an educational and a financial understanding, Estes said.