Hundreds of city board members are scratching their heads after Mayor Frank Melton issued a letter asking for their resignations. Many boards are consulting their attorneys, but some say the mayor is overstepping his authority by asking them to step down.
Nearly 250 members of Around 30 Jackson city boards and commissions were asked to resign in a letter from Mayor Melton on Thursday.
“Many of these people will be reappointed. They are good and decent people, but I just think they need to be appointed by the new city council and new administration,” said Melton, stressing his request is mostly a formality.
Many commissions and boards are turning to their attorneys, asking if Melton has this authority. “Preliminary reports show that he does have the authority to request resignations,” said City Council President Marshand Crisler.
Board and Commission members typically are appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council before beginning their term for a pre-determined number of years.
But depending on the board, state law says forced resignations can only be brought about through formal charges and hearings. The Jackson Public School board released a statement saying Melton has no authority over its board members once in office.
Board President Ann Jones wrote in the statement that, “The purpose of public policy is to provide continuity and stability for the operation of the school district and to allow some layer of insulation or protection from the political process.”
Jones continued by writing that J.P.S. board members will follow their own conscience in reacting to Melton’s request.
Other boards are talking with their attorneys to determine whose authority must be served.
“We’re just kind of waiting on that answer right now beecause this is somewhat unprecedented,” said City Council President Marshand Crisler.