Red Bank Mayor Blocked From Naming Her Planning Commission Choice To Seat That LeCompte Had Made Prior Selection

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Three members of the Red Bank Commission who often take opposite stances than Mayor Hollie Berry and Vice Mayor Stefanie Dalton did so again on Tuesday night. That came during a raucous session that had the mayor repeatedly asking members of the audience to refrain from speaking out.

Billy Cannon, an appointee of Commissioner Ed LeCompte on the Red Bank Planning Commission, recently stepped down after issues were raised about him attending a meeting with local planning officials along with Mayor Berry. 

On Tuesday night, Mayor Berry said she was naming Don McKenzie to take the place of Mr. Cannon, then she began to move on to another item on the agenda.

Commissioner LeCompte interjected, "Aren't we going to take a vote?"

He said he was the one who selected Mr. Cannon and noted that each of the five Red Bank Commission members have appointees to their planning panel.

Mayor Berry said she was relying on the opinion of City Attorney Arnie Stulce. He said that the Red Bank resolution on the Planning Commission does not speak to what happens on an appointment after a Planning Commission member resigns.

Accordingly, he said the town will fall back on what state law says. That says the appointments are by the mayor.

Mayor Berry said, "I didn't think we should go against what our city attorney said."

She also said, "I wasn't expecting any big to do about it."

The mayor said Mr. McKenzie attends the Planning Commission meetings and has been working on a native plants ordinance she is advocating. At the meeting, Mr. McKenzie spoke in favor of a $1.20 tax levy favored by the mayor and vice mayor.

Commissioner Ruth Jeno said in the past "it has not been just one person making all the appointments. Why don't you just do the right thing?"

Commissioner Pete Phillips said, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you oughta do it."

There was a vote to table the issue. Mayor Berry said the issue could be brought up later. That motion failed with Commissioners Jeno, Phillips and LeCompte opposed and the mayor and vice mayor in favor.

Then there was a vote to let Commissioner LeCompte make the appointment. That motion passed.

Commissioner LeCompte said he was naming Rufus Smith to the post.

Many in the audience cheered that action.

Tony Pardue, a citizen, said, "It hurts me that two people want to destroy our good morals and our good values. Two people have no right to destroy it. We are going to put this city back to where it belongs."


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