July 7, 2017 10:51:05 AM
The new term hit a speed bump during Thursday's city council meeting when councilmen knotted over whom to name vice mayor.
The standoff ultimately ended with third-term Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin replacing Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor for the position.
The vice mayor oversees council meetings in the mayor's absence.
Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box, with a second from new Ward 4 Councilman Fred Jackson, nominated Gavin for the title.
Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens substituted a motion to reappoint Taylor vice mayor. Mickens received a second from Ward 5 Councilman Stephen Jones.
The council voted on Mickens' substitute motion first, and the two voting blocs split, 3-3, on the decision, to the amusement of some audience members.
Mayor Robert Smith, who normally wields voting power when the council ties, refused to break the tie on the vice mayor issue. Instead, he told councilmen to solve the impasse themselves.
"I don't have any problem with voting," Smith said after the meeting. "But I have to work with these guys. That's why I told them to solve it among themselves."
Smith's decision led to a protracted silence, with Mickens attempting to scold him into voting.
"I've been told, Mr. Mayor, when I didn't vote that I was required to vote," Mickens said. "I think it's your privilege to vote. You sit in that seat. It's your privilege to make the vote. (If it's) 3-3, I think it's up to you to make that vote."
Still, the mayor refused. The standoff lingered until Taylor, calling the impasse "nonsense," declined Mickens' nomination. Taylor served as vice mayor for the previous council term.
"This is a great opportunity to serve as vice mayor here for the city of Columbus, and I greatly appreciate that," Taylor said. "But to get at this stage where we're at a standstill on the council for our first meeting coming back -- I cannot be a part of that. So if this is the way it has to end as vice mayor, I will take that way out."
The council then voted 3-1 to name Gavin vice mayor. Box, Jackson and Gavin voted in favor, Jones opposed, and Taylor and Mickens abstained. Abstentions count toward the majority in council votes.
"I'm certainly honored to be chosen as vice mayor," Gavin said. "I'm looking forward to working with the mayor and council to move the city forward. I put my name in the hat just to throw my name in there. I think I've got good experience and will do a good job, and councilman Taylor would have too.
"I know Mr. Taylor wanted it," he added. "He's a good man and he's been a great vice mayor these past four years. ... I would have had no problem if he would have gotten it instead of me."
1. Inmate dies at Lowndes County jail COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. One dead after downtown Columbus shooting COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Slimantics: 110-year-old poster a memento of legendary MSU-Ole Miss game COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Restaurant tax: CVB offers compromise on 2-percent tax COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. A truly multi-purpose playground COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY