West Point Council put in awkward position

Published 7:28 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The West Point City Council appointed Deedee Williams to fill its open council position on Monday night, ending a months-long process to decide on who should get the seat.

Williams replaces Benjamin Wilcox, who resigned from the council in January to accept the position of West Point municipal court judge pro-tem.

Since Wilcox’s resignation, the council has rightfully gone through a public process, one that allowed community members to submit an application and explain to the council why they should get the position.

However, it clearly wasn’t an easy process.

Mayor Steve Tramell spoke to that on Monday night, explaining that the council had been mum on who it was going to appoint to the position. Tramell said that in most other cases, the council makes it clear which way it’s leaning.

Part of that awkwardness probably came from the possible conflicts of interest that come from a council selecting a new member. Obviously, it’s always best if the community makes that decision, not the governing body, but that wasn’t really an option in this case.

Two other factors also made it awkward.

First, Williams has narrowly lost two mayoral races over the last five years, including one to Tramell. The mayor understandably elected not to vote, noting the conflict of interest since Williams may run for mayor again later this year.

Second, Williams’ new position is up for election again in November, so it’s possible it may be a short-lived appointment, especially if she chooses not to run for re-election.

Tramell suggested that the council amend the city charter so that council positions are not filled when they become open in an election year.

That’s probably a wise decision, especially in West Point, where council members don’t oversee a specific district and serve the entire city.

And that’s not meant as anything against Williams, who clearly has a passion for West Point and has a lot of support around the city. It’s clear that if the position was put up for a vote in the community, she would’ve had a lot of support. 

However, it’s probably in the best interest of everyone in West Point if the council finds a way to avoid that situation in the future.