West Point City Council discusses board of election seat

Published 6:07 pm Friday, February 7, 2020

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The West Point City Council meeting got off to a contentious start Thursday when Board of Elections Vice Chair Dianne Davidson accused the council of dragging their feet on reappointing her to the election board.

Davidson’s term ran out at the end of 2019, but since the council has not appointed anyone, she has remained serving in that role. Mayor Steve Tramell said the council was prepared to vote on the appointment at the last meeting but received another applicant at the last minute.

City documents show both Davidson and Detrick Higgins have applied for a spot on the board, and Davidson requested to speak at Thursday’s meeting.

Davidson made her case for reinstatement citing her four years of experience and training.

“I am not only on the board of elections, I am a certified official,” Davidson said. “I’m a certified official for the state, and I’m a certified official for the county. So, I don’t’ know what the problem is.”

Davidson went on to say that with the new voting machines being used in the upcoming election there is a need for trained personnel. She said making a change to the board of elections at this point would put a strain on the election.

Councilwoman Sandra Thornton expressed concerns about reappointing Davidson, citing comments Davidson allegedly made in front of city hall prior to the November 2019 elections that eluded to Thornton’s re-election campaign.

“I was the only one in the crowd that was up for reelection,” Thornton said. “And your statement that was that you would make sure I didn’t get back.”

Davidson confirmed she did make a comment.

“I said that you shouldn’t get back in,” Davidson said.

In a statement, Thornton said she felt the statement created a conflict of interest by making public statements about elections results. At that point, Tramell interceded, bringing attention back on the appointment decision.

Councilman Gerald Ledbetter said anyone who doesn’t get this appointment is encouraged to apply for one of the other open positions and continue to serve the city.

In other council news, Thornton will make a motion on Monday to name the new street that will gain access onto Kia Boulevard after former Councilmember Donald Gilliam. Thornton stated Gilliam was a progressive leader for economic growth, and he was proud of the Kia project and the jobs it would bring to West Point.

“Most of you don’t know that even the water tower, had it not been for Mr. Gilliam it would not say West Point,” Thornton said.

Also discussed in the Thursday work session was a traffic calming policy.

The council wants to add stop signs or implement other measures along problematic roads throughout the city. Ledbetter said that he felt this was more of a process for public safety officials.

“In my opinion, that is beyond the pay grade of the city council,” he said. I think when it comes to traffic and things of that nature that is a job for law enforcement, the recommendations that come from public safety officials and from professionals in that regard.” 

The council moved into a dicussion about The Ray solar improvements at the welcome center. The project will involve upgrading the transformers to allow for a new solar charger.

Also added to the agenda for Monday is to add an appointment to the Parks and Recreation Board.

The next council meeting with take place Monday, Feb. 10.