City council continues to pressure mayor for appointments

City council continues to pressure mayor for appointments

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg City Council president Kim Bradley wants all or nothing when it comes to Mayor Johnny DuPree's city appointments.

"We have to quit playing games because that's what we're doing," said Bradley of the mayor's delay in bringing applicants before the city council for approval.

The council will vote Tuesday whether to approve chief financial officer Sharon Waits as interim deputy city clerk. Waits currently serves in both positions, but the council allowed DuPree 90 days for Waits to serve as interim until he found a permanent replacement.

Now, DuPree wants the council to approve Waits as interim deputy city clerk again, but without the 90 day hold. Bradley said he wanted the mayor to instead not only bring forward someone to fill that position but every other appointment the mayor had yet to fill.

"We need to get these directors confirmed, and if they're not going to be confirmed, let's find people that can get in the positions and do the job and fix the problems that we have," said Bradley.

The council has approved five of the mayor's six proposed appointments, which include fire chief, director of public works, water and sewer, federal and state programs and engineering. The only position that has been brought to the council and did not receive approval is city clerk. The mayor has 17 total appointments.

But several council members, including Bradley, say it is past time for the mayor to bring the remaining appointments forward. It has been over one year since DuPree's inauguration, yet he has only filled five of 17 positions.

"The next step is to go back and ask the court to hold him liable for not doing his job," said Bradley of the council's options.

An attorney general's opinion states the mayor must appointment his department heads "within a reasonable time after the beginning of the new term." The Mississippi Supreme Court, just as it did in 2006, would have the final say on how long "reasonable time" is for the mayor to present his appointments to the council.

"I think we've exceed a reasonable time," said Bradley. "We're all held accountable in some, and if this [lawsuit] is the only way to hold him accountable, then that's what we'll do."