Hattiesburg mayor brings forward majority of appointments for approval amid lawsuit

Hattiesburg mayor brings forward majority of appointments for approval amid lawsuit

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree will present the remainder of his department head appointees, except for city clerk, at Tuesday's city council meeting.

The appointments up for council approval include police chief, city attorney and public defender, along with eight other positions.

Mayor DuPree has received council approval for five of his six appointments since March, which include directors in the engineering, federal and state, fire, public works and water and sewer departments. His appointment for the city clerk position was not approved, and it has not been brought forward since.

City Council President Kim Bradley (Ward 1) and Councilman Carter Carroll (Ward 3) sued the mayor last month for not presenting his appointments to the council in a timely manner. According to Mississippi Code, mayors must bring forward department head appointments at the beginning of each new term, which has been over a year for DuPree.

"This is the only avenue we had," Bradley said of the lawsuit in November. The original complaint filed allowed DuPree one week to bring forward the remainder of his appointments, and when he failed to do so, Bradley and Carroll filed the suit in court. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2006 in a nearly identical situation with DuPree, Bradley and Carroll that ordered the mayor to bring forward the appointments immediately.

The 11 appointees include:

  • Clemon Terrell as Director of Parks and Recreation
  • Pattie Brantley as Director of Urban Development
  • Jerry Evans as Municipal Court Judge
  • Faye Hicks as Municipal Court Clerk
  • Sally O'Flynn as Municipal Court Prosecutor, Post 1
  • Alexander Ignatiev as Municipal Court Prosecutor, Post 2
  • Jonathan Farris as Municipal Court Judge Pro-tem
  • Crystal Wise Martin as Municipal Court Judge Pro-tem
  • J.L. Body as Municipal Public Defender
  • Mitchell Dent as Chief of Police
  • C.J. Lawrence III as City Attorney

The only positions that are not hold-overs from DuPree's previous term are public defender, judge pro-tem (Martin), police chief and city attorney. The current public defender, Alethea Shaw, was indicted in late 2014 for voting out of legal domicile in the 2013 Hattiesburg mayoral election.

DuPree did not return multiple calls on Shaw's position after her indictment nor the remaining appointments.

The Hattiesburg City Council meets at 4 p.m. Monday for a work session and agenda setting, and the council meeting is Tuesday at 5 p.m. To access the agendas, click here.