Hattiesburg City Council approves Barker’s department head nominees

Chief Peggy Sealy becomes first female chief of police in the Hub City
City Council members ultimately approved all of Mayor Barkers nominees.
City Council members ultimately approved all of Mayor Barkers nominees.(WDAM)
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 8:25 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - In Tuesday night’s council meeting, the Hattiesburg City Council voted to approve all 11 of Mayor Toby Barker’s nominees for department heads and all five municipal court positions in the Hub City.

Barker says he’s pleased with the city staff and looks forward to continuing to work with them.

“I think over the last term we were really focused on bringing the best talent, the most passionate, hardest working, diverse talent we could to lead our city. The citizens gave us full endorsement of that on June 8 in every ward and we’re glad to bring that leadership team back for another four years,” Barker says.

The city made history appointing Peggy Sealy to Police Chief of the City of Hattiesburg. She is the first female police chief of the Hub City.

Sealy has been serving as interim chief since the retirement of Anthony Parker in December. Barker says he is excited about her confirmation.

“She has really improved morale, she’s engaged the community and I think she’s an example for every young girl who looks up and sees they can shatter any glass ceiling, do any job that’s available,” says Barker. “I think it’s an example for younger officers who see her as someone who started as a meter maid doing parking meters and then worked her way through the housing authority and building relationships in neighborhoods and those relationships have really paid off for her.”

Some council members did vote against a few of the appointments, but they were in the minority of votes.

Councilwoman Deborah Delgado and Councilman Nicholas Brown did choose to voice their reasons for voting against seeing Chief Sealy confirmed.

Brown shared that he feels a police chief is one of the most important positions in the city.

“Any potential candidate or candidates should be individually discussed one on one between the mayor and each council member,” Brown says. “This allows each council member to give input and opinions. Citizens are most affected by the police department which is in place to serve and protect our community.”

Delgado followed by commenting on the lack of discussion of candidates before the voting.

“I did not intend to say anything. However, there was no communication on the part administration for any appointments. The way that it has been done in the past and, I guess that we are not bound by the way things are done in the past, is that is there was at least a conversation,” says Delgado.

Barker addresses the discussion during voting.

“Discussion and disagreement are good for the process. What you never want is disagreement to dissolve into dysfunction and that’s one thing that we’ve avoided for the past four and a half years,” Barker says. “I’m excited about the leaders that we have who were all approved and who are ready to lead this city and provide the best customer service to our citizens.”

The positions, departments, and votes are:

  • Lamar Rutland: Director of Engineering - Unanimous
  • Alan Howe: Director of Water and Sewer - Unanimous
  • Ronnie Perkins: Director of Public Works - Unanimous
  • Chris McGee: Director of Parks and Recreation - 4-2
    • For: George, Carroll, Ware, Brown; Against: Delgado
  • Andrew Ellard; Director of Urban Development - 3-2
    • For: George, Carroll, Ware; Against: Delgado, Brown
  • Sherrocko Stewart: Fire Chief - Unanimous
  • Peggy Sealy: Police Chief - 3-2
    • For: George, Carroll, Ware; Against: Delgado, Brown
  • Phillip McSwain: Municipal Court Clerk - Unanimous
  • Burnice Wesley Curry IV; Municipal Court Judge - Unanimous
  • Brian Bledsoe; Municipal Court Judge - Unanimous
  • Gay Polk-Payton: Municipal Court Judge/Pro Tem - Unanimous
  • Anna Rush: Municipal Prosecutor/Post 1 - Unanimous
  • Stephen Adamson: Municipal Prosecutor/Post 2 - Unanimous
  • Elizabeth Porter: Municipal prosecutor/Pro Tem - Unanimous
  • Shakita Taylor: Municipal Public Defender - Unanimous
  • Benjamin Thornton: Municipal Public Defender - Unanimous

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