City stalled on BOE appointment

Published 3:26 pm Friday, June 8, 2012

The saga of Bobby Armstead’s expired Demopolis City Schools Board of Education seat continues after Thursday night’s city council meeting adjourned with no appointment.

When the council arrived to the item in the unfinished business portion of the agenda, Councilman Mitchell Congress motioned that the city’s governing body set aside its protocol for the evening and vote for new nominees immediately rather than tabling the discussion for two more weeks. Congress’ motion died without a second and the floor was once again opened for nominees.

Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson began the nomination process by suggesting Conrad Murdock for the seat. Grayson previously nominated Murdock for the spot during the first meeting of May.

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Murdock’s candidacy came to a halt at the council’s previous meeting when Grayson and councilmen Bill Meador and Jack Cooley voted for him while councilmen Melvin Yelverton, Mitchell Congress and Thomas Moore voted against.

“I first noticed Conrad when I attended events at his church,” Grayson said of Murdock, a Rock Tenn employee. “It appeared every time the doors were open, there stood Conrad. That says a lot about the character of an individual. I think we need a person of character, integrity, a free thinker on the school board, one that will be inclined to ask questions.”

Moore countered Grayson’s nomination of Murdock by putting Freddie Armstead Jr. up for the spot. Moore previously nominated Armstead during the first meeting of May. Armstead’s candidacy fell flat with a 3-3 vote that saw Yelverton, Congress and Moore in favor and Meador, Cooley and Grayson opposed.

“He’s currently serving on the Industrial Development Board. He’s doing an excellent job. He attends all the meetings. He’s a part in a successful business,” Moore said of Armstead, who is part owner of Sears on U.S. Highway 80 in Demopolis and the Public Safety Coordinator of the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission. “I think he is imminently qualified and he is a youngster we need to infuse into our system.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the nominees again at its June 21 meeting. Following Thursday’s meeting, optimism was lacking about the council’s ability to fill the seat.

“I think the dividing lines are clearly drawn,” Moore said of the gulf that has split the council in recent months. “If this is a divisive issue, we need to put this aside until we can reach a consensus.”