Pelham council elects council president

By BRIANA HARRIS / Staff Writer

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council re-elected Councilman Rick Hayes as council president at a meeting on Monday, Dec. 5.

Councilwoman Mildred Lanier nominated Hayes, and Councilman Ron Scott nominated Councilman Maurice Mercer. Prior to the vote, Mercer thanked Scott for having faith in him, but said that he was going to vote for Hayes.

“To Councilman Scott, I appreciate the thought, the support and belief in me to lead the council,” Mercer said. “However, based on the last meeting and where we’re at now, I’m personally going to support Mr. Hayes. It’s time for us as a council to come together and move forward.”

Scott remained steadfast, voting for Mercer, and Councilwoman Beth McMillan, Mercer and Lanier voted for Hayes. Hayes abstained from the vote.

The vote comes after some division among the council about how to handle an issue regarding the election of council president.

At a Nov. 7 meeting, the council voted to table the council president vote so the city could request an opinion from the state Ethics Commission and the attorney general regarding an ethics law that states that elected officials cannot vote on a matter that would result in a financial benefit for themselves.

The council voted on the matter at a Nov. 21 meeting although they had not heard back from either entity yet. The idea behind the vote was that someone could be elected council president until opinions are received from the Ethics Commission and attorney general. Since the City Council can vote on council president at any time, a different president can be elected at a later date if that’s what the council wants to do.

However, the Nov. 21 vote failed to elect a council president. The council voted 2-1 in favor of Hayes, with two abstentions. Lanier and Councilwoman Beth McMillan voted for Hayes, and Scott voted for Mercer. Hayes and Mercer abstained from the vote. The council needed a majority vote of 3-1.

At the Dec. 5 meeting Mayor Gary Waters said he received a letter from the Attorney General’s Office stating that an opinion would be provided as soon as possible. Waters said the city will contact the AG to request that the opinion be expedited.

Lanier said at the meeting that she has received a lot of phone calls from the public about why she decided to support Hayes as council president. Lanier said she respects each member of the council and that her support of Hayes stemmed from a desire to finish projects that are currently in the works.

“My vote is for Pelham City Schools, my vote is for the library and the recreation center,” she said. “It’s a vote for the continuation of those things.”

Hayes and Lanier echoed Mercer’s sentiments that it is time for the council to move forward and continue working toward the betterment of the city.

The council also elected Lanier president pro tempore in a 3-2 vote. McMillan nominated Lanier for the post, and Hayes, McMillan and Lanier voted in favor of the matter. Scott abstained from the vote and Mercer voted against the measure.