Aldermen select James for school board position

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen appointed Amos James Jr. Tuesday to the Natchez-Adams School Board.

James was among five applicants for the position.

All of the aldermen — excluding Ward 4 Alderman Tony Fields, who cited a conflict of interest as he works for the school district and Ward 5 Alderman Mark Fortenbery who was not in attendance — voted in favor of James’ appointment.

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A retired U.S. Army veteran, James said during his interview Thursday that he plans to take his passion for the school district to new heights.

“I’m willing to be in the school system — up and down the halls talking and shaking hands to find out what their needs are,” he said.

James replaces former board member David Troutman who announced in January he did not wish to seek reappointment after serving five years on the board.

James will join four others on the school board — Cynthia Smith, Thelma Newsome, Benny Wright and board president Timothy Blalock.

Natchez Mayor Butch Brown said he is confident in James’ ability to contribute positively to the Natchez-Adams School District.

“I’ve encountered him at a couple of meetings, and he speaks with authority and with passion about young people in our community,” Brown said. “I fully support the nomination and the appointment.”

Ward 2 Alderman Ricky Gray echoed Brown, and said the board made a solid choice in selecting James.

“It was a tough decision because we had so many great candidates, but I feel like we made the right choice,” Gray said. “I know his heart is in the right place, and I believe he’ll do what’s right for the kids.”

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith said because so many qualified applicants existed, the board was challenged with choosing from “the best of the best.”

“We couldn’t go wrong,” she said.

Currently, the school board is comprised of three city-appointment members and two county-appointed members.

Brown said James is eligible to take his school board seat as soon as possible.