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County Commission appoints Washington to WTH Board of Trustees, no one to JMCSS Board

The Madison County Commission meeting agenda for Monday night had two main goals: Appoint a member for a couple of vacancies on the Jackson-Madison County School System Board and the West Tennessee Healthcare Board of Trustees.

The Commission succeeded in one of those goals.

Ray Washington was selected by a count of 15 votes on the second vote for him to be appointed to the Board.

The appointment election rules for both votes was for someone to get the appointment, they had to get 13 votes – a simple majority in the full Commission – even though there were 23 Commissioners present.

If no one gets 13 votes, then the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated, and they vote again until someone gets 13 votes or they see no one will get 13, and the vote is tabled until the next meeting.

Washington didn’t get the required 13 votes initially. He got 12 to Darlette Samuels’ 11.

Washington, who’s a former interim Superintendent for JMCSS and is the chief of operations for Fayette County Schools, then was up for a yay or nay vote since Samuels – a vice-president at Lane College – was eliminated from the process.

Washington then received 15 yay votes to put him on the Board.

Earlier in the night, the Commission couldn’t get an equally definitive end to the voting game for the school board.

All four applicants who’d applied for the job were nominated.

They were given a few minutes each to make their pitch for the school board seat.

Marcia Moss detailed her career as an educator. Brent Lay said if he made it onto the school board, he’d push to re-open Malesus Elementary and Beech Bluff School that were shut down in 2016 as part of Vision 2020. Latarsha Hanna-Huff gave her history of helping her mom to dad, who were in education, and helping them at their offices in Indiana, the Carolinas and finally Tennessee. Dwight Jones made his pitch. After serving high in the Marines, Jones was ready to step down and give involved in local government.

There was some discussion among the Commissioners, but a quick a vote made it evident nearly half of the Commission each supported Moss and Jones. Hanna-Huff was eliminated.

The one person who voted for Huff, Kevin Hicks, voted for Moss the second time through, eliminating Lay. The three who voted for Lay – Gary Tippett, Carl Alexander and Mark Aday – all passed on the vote and left the school board without an appointment.

Even though no one was elected, since Jones didn’t get the majority of the votes, he was eliminated from the vote.

So a vote yay or nay about Moss for the school board was next.

Moss got 12 yays, eight nays and three passes, forcing the Commission to table the vote until their next meeting in September.

Commission Chairman Gary Deaton and County Attorney Jay Bush reminded the Commissioners that the process essentially starts all over again, with applicants having until 10 days before the meeting, which will be on Sept. 18, to submit a resume to the County Commission office.

At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Olivia Abernathy gave a speech, saying she lost in the vote for an appointment to the Board for that seat to Scott Gatlin, whose resignation sparked this voting process. But she went back to volunteering for the public schools because she knew the work needed to be done. So she asked for someone who’d voted no to Moss to move to reconsider the vote and put the issue to vote one more time so the school board can work with a full body and that district can be fully represented.

Deaton asked if anyone wished to move to do another vote. After a few seconds of silence, Commissioner Jimmy Arnold moved to adjourn the meeting, which received a handful of audible seconds.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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