For the final action of the council meeting, Mayor Gene Robinson called for nominations for the seat vacated by former Councilman David Dawson on April 24. Councilman Ben Little nominated applicant Millie Harris. But the nomination died when no other councilman seconded it.
Councilman Herbert Palmore then nominated Dunn, and Robinson seconded. With no discussion, the councilmen voted 3-1 for the appointment with Little voting no.
After a couple of minutes of discussion about when Dunn would be sworn in, Little said to City Clerk Alan Atkinson, “For the purpose of personal privilege, Alan, change my vote to yes.”
City Manager Don Hoyt said that the official vote will likely remain 3-1, because the vote was already recorded.
After the meeting, Dunn said he was stunned and happy. Dunn had run for a council seat once before, and lost.
“When I lost in 2008, the pain of losing didn’t hurt as much as I feel like I let my family down and the people who really wanted to see me win,” Dunn said. “They need to celebrate in this victory.”
Marcus’ wife, Pam, sat next to him in the council chambers and was just as surprised as he was.
“I’m taking it all in right now,” his wife said. “We’ve been excited since the first campaign in 2008 and we’re still excited.”
Dunn’s selection gives the council a majority of black members, a fact that went without remark during the meeting. (Little and Palmore also are black.) Danny McCullars, the city’s finance director and the only staffer The Star could reach late Tuesday, said city staff had checked in advance of the meeting and could find no record of any earlier black majority on the council.
“There was a lot of pride in that room tonight,” McCullars said.
Given the city’s history during the civil rights era, an African American majority on the council would seem to be a significant milestone for Anniston.
The Census Bureau recorded Anniston’s population as majority black for the first time in 2010, at 51 percent.
Dunn said his first priority was making sure the council could continue to be productive. He also would like to work on economic development during the next five months.
“I’m hopeful we can talk about bringing more business here and making the city more attractive,” Dunn said. “Anniston has so much to offer.”
Councilman Jay Jenkins said he was thrilled with Dunn’s appointment.
“He just seemed to carry about a charisma about him, a demeanor about him that I found very calming,” Jenkins said. “It was clear his heart was where it needed to be and really, in the end, as hard as the decision had become, it was really easy to pick Marcus.”
Little, who wavered on his vote, said he hoped that the next few months would go well.
“It was a hard decision,” Little said. “I said what I said; it didn’t go through. My motion didn’t pass and I went back and did what we needed to do.”
Dunn will be sworn in at a special meeting on Friday at 11 a.m.
In other business the council:
-- Appointed Fred Wilson to the Regional Medical Center Board
-- Approved participating in the sales tax holiday for severe weather preparedness in July.
-- Approved applying for a $100,000 grant for an RV park at Michael Tucker Park.
-- Approved a $5,000 reimbursement for expenses related to a concert at Zinn Park on July 14.
Contact staff writer Laura Camper at 256-235-3545.