By Nicol Milev
Although Tupelo’s newly-elected mayor and city council have been in office for almost a month, appointing a new police chief has not been discussed in open meetings.
At the end of June, long-time Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre, age 71, retired after 36 years of service. Outgoing Mayor Jason Shelton appointed Deputy Police Chief Jackie Clayton as interim police chief, which the city council unanimously approved. Todd Jordan, the then mayor-elect, agreed to this decision as well.
Clayton attended both of the regularly scheduled city council meetings on July 6 and July 20 to represent the Tupelo Police Department. However, there was no discussion in either meeting about how and when a new police chief will be appointed.
A city hall source did inform NEMiss.News that Mayor Jordan expects to make a broad search for a new police chief, including applicants from outside of Mississippi. No details about the search are made available yet to the public.
During the meeting on July 6, several city officials from the Shelton administration were re-appointed, including Don Lewis as Chief Operating Officer; Kim Hanna as Chief Financial Officer; Ben Logan as City Attorney; Tanner Newman as Director of Development Services; and Missy Shelton as Council Clerk.
During the meeting on July 20, Kizzy Guy was unanimously approved as the new Human Resources Director. Meanwhile, Neal McCoy was re-approved to serve again as the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau Director.
Other familiar faces from the meetings include incumbent city council members Lynn Bryan of Ward 2, Travis Beard of Ward 3, Nettie Davis of Ward 4, and Buddy Palmer of Ward 5.
Notably, Tupelo City Council member and Ward 4 Representative Nettie Davis will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for 20 years of service to the city of Tupelo. She is now entering her sixth term on the city board.
However, it also seems that 2021 will mark a year of fresh perspectives for the city of Tupelo. Mayor Todd Jordan, a Republican, took office in early July, replacing incumbent Democrat Jason Shelton as mayor. Additionally, three city council members are newly elected to their positions: Chad Mims of Ward 1, Janet Gaston of Ward 6, and Rosie Jones of Ward 7.
Chad Mims defeated Democratic nominee Geraldine Brinkley for his seat. He was not physically present in either meeting, instead attending them through virtual means.
The other new city council members were elected to the seats of incumbent members. Janet Gaston defeated incumbent Republican Mike Bryan and Rosie Jones defeated three-term Democrat incumbent Willie Jennings in the primary election. These wins make history for the city of Tupelo. For the first time, there are three women on the Tupelo City Council: Nettie Davis of Ward 4, Janet Gaston of Ward 6, and Rosie Jones of Ward 7.
According to the most recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2019, women make up 54 percent of the population of Tupelo. Thus, this election marks great strides for the representation of the perspectives and interests of over half of the city’s population.
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