City clerk change continues through system

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi State Attorney General’s office said the City of Natchez appears to be on solid legal ground when it comes to changing the city clerk’s office from an elected to an appointed position.

The board of aldermen moved to make the proposed change in August, more than a year after it was first suggested. Board members said at the time the change will allow the aldermen to require higher standards of the city clerk’s office.

In an Oct. 21 letter to Gov. Phil Bryant’s Office, Special Assistant Attorney General Phil Carter said the proposed amendment is “consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Mississippi.”

Email newsletter signup

Natchez City Attorney Hyde Carby said the governor’s office would still have to approve the change before the Natchez Board of Aldermen can have the change placed on the books.

After the board of aldermen moved to make the changes, the city advertised it three times in its official journal. The ads ran Aug. 30, Sept. 6 and Sept. 13.

“We sent the proposed, relevant statutes and case law to the governor’s office the week after (the last) advertisement ran,” Carby said.

“It goes to the governor’s office, and according to the statute he receives it, forwards it to the attorney general to make sure it is legal and constitutional, and once it is blessed by the attorney general the governor will send it back and let us know the approval. Then we will come down here and adopt something on the minutes noting it was approved.”

During the advertisement period, residents of the city could have filed a petition requesting the change go to a ballot, but no petition was filed.

Carby said once the aldermen note the change in their minutes, the city will have to notify Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office — which oversees the state’s elections — of the change.

Carby said he has no timeline on when the city might receive official word from the governor’s office about the approval.

“There is no timeline based on the letters I was able to find, but it seems to indicate a month to 60 days,” he said. “It is something they need to be deliberate about, so I am glad they don’t rush.”

City Clerk Donnie Holloway has already said he did not have plans to run again in 2016.

The city board has also previously discussed making the municipal judge’s bench an appointed position, but did not move forward with that change in August. Some aldermen expressed a desire at that time to revisit the issue before the election cycle begins again.