Callaway appointed city attorney for new adminsitration

Published 8:49 pm Friday, July 24, 2020

NATCHEZ — Natchez Mayor and Board of Alderman held the first meeting of a new administration Friday afternoon at the Natchez Convention Center.

Friday’s inauguration ceremony and meeting began shortly before Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves set new restrictions on public gatherings so that no more than 20 people could gather outdoors and 10 people indoors.

During Friday’s meeting, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted on appointing or reappointing officers for the City of Natchez, including the city attorney, city clerk, three deputy clerks, city auditor, mayor pro tem, municipal judge pro tem, municipal prosecutor, municipal court clerk and municipal deputy clerk.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the Natchez Charter calls for the mayor to submit names for each position for board approval during the first meeting conducted by a new administration.

Per the recommendation of Gibson, the board appointed Natchez Attorney Bryan Callaway to be the new city attorney by a vote of 5-1, with Alderman Billie Joe Frazier voting “nay.”

Frazier submitted Lydia Blackmon and Lisa Chandler as two other names for the city attorney position, stating that the City of Natchez “has never had a woman serve as the city attorney” and he felt that both women were qualified for the position.

For municipal judge pro tem, Gibson recommended Nickita Banks, who had previously served as a public defender and judge in Claiborne County.

The board approved Banks’ appointment by a vote of 4-1, with Frazier voting “nay” and Alderwoman Felicia Bridgewater-Irving abstaining.

Frazier recommended Lydia Blackmon for the position and Irving moved to table voting on the municipal judge pro tem until the board had more time to review applications.

“I have not seen the resume for either of them until just a few minutes ago,” Irving said of the two names presented for municipal judge pro tem. “I would like for us to start off with us just accepting resumes. … I don’t believe we need to just bring names in because someone submitted an application. I think it needs more discussion. … We want to select the best person that we feel is qualified for this position.”

The board voted down Irving’s motion to table the voting on the municipal judge pro tem by a vote of 4-2, with only Irving and Frazier voting to table it.

In other matters during Friday’s meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the board also appointed Tim Cotton as the municipal court prosecutor by a vote of 5-1, with Frazier voting “nay.”

The board unanimously reappointed Servia Fortenberry as city clerk; Denise Bell, Pam Patterson and Rebecca Turner as deputy clerks; Silas Simons as the city auditor; Charlene Green as the municipal court clerk; and Velma Williams as the deputy clerk. Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard was unanimously appointed to serve as mayor pro tem.