Not yet in office, Anniston City Council starts learning the ropes
by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
Oct 27, 2012 | 3431 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The incoming Anniston City Council members had their first meeting Friday as a complete governing body, an event that offered a snapshot of its priorities.

At their request, the five newly elected members met with City Manager Don Hoyt for a four-hour orientation. The orientation went through matters such as council rules of procedure, the Alabama Open Meetings Act and executive sessions as well as the laws regarding Anniston’s form of government including the role of the city manager, civil service board and the council members.

Councilwoman-elect Millie Harris said getting all that information was a little overwhelming, but she said the orientation was important.

“We’re in the learning mode,” Harris said. “Sure we’ll make mistakes, but the more educated we are the better we’ll be able to serve.”

When the first meeting rolls around on Nov. 13, she’ll have a better idea of how to prepare and the procedures the members will be following, Harris said.

With the exception of Councilman Jay Jenkins, the incoming members are all inexperienced as elected city officials. Several have held board appointments in Anniston and have some experience with the inner workings of Anniston’s administration, though.

Councilman-elect Seyram Selase, a member of the Public Building Authority and the Revolving Loan Fund boards, said he had hoped to learn the rules governing elected officials and specifically Anniston City Council members at the orientation. But the meeting also gave the council members their first insight into how the group will interact and he was optimistic about the upcoming term.

“There was definitely a feeling of cooperation between the members,” Selase said.

There was also a sense of excitement as the members talked about their plans and hopes for the city, Selase said.

Councilman-elect David Reddick pointed out the diverse backgrounds of the new council members — Mayor-elect Vaughn Stewart’s background in law, Selase’s background as a grant writer, Jenkins’ background in planning, Harris’ background as a community activist and his own background in aviation and tourism — would benefit the city.

“We all bring something good,” Reddick said.

Stewart agreed, and added the members have a chemistry that will lead to a productive council.

“I’m very optimistic,” Stewart said after the meeting. “I think we all will be professionals.”

It was a productive meeting, Jenkins said, adding that when he was appointed 10 months ago, he had to learn everything on the job.

“I got to hit the ground running with the new group,” said Jenkins, the only current council member who was re-elected. “I would have loved to have a three- or four-hour session before my first day.”

The incoming council members plan to have a retreat on Nov. 1-3 to get to know one another better and to learn more about their new roles as elected officials.

The council members along with the newly elected members of the Board of Education will take their oath of office at 10 a.m. Nov. 5, at Anniston High School.

Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.
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