During a Thursday interview, Columbus mayor Keith Gaskin said he plans to propose the city council hire local businessman Mark Alexander Jr. as interim chief operations officer. The hiring would be subject to a vote by council.
“He’s got experience overseeing a wide range of departments, budgeting experience too,” Gaskin said of Alexander.
If hired, Alexander would take the reins as COO from David Armstrong, who retired at the end of June.
“I am ready and excited to serve the city for the near future,” Alexander said.
In May, Columbus city council voted unanimously to delay the process of choosing a new COO until after the June 8 election, to give the incoming council a say in the hiring. Initially, there were six applicants for the position.
Gaskin said the search for a permanent chief operations officer will be reopened to gain a broader range of applicants. He said the search will take between three and six months to complete.
Born and raised in Columbus, Alexander, 38, is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s degree in business. He previously worked for East Mississippi Community College as the Special Assistant to the President. Alexander says he has experience supervising many of the same or similar departments that he will be responsible for at the city. Alexander is presently a partner at Alexander, Covington, & Co., a mergers and acquisitions firm. He is also the COO and co-founder of Global Outdoors, an app and website for people interested in outdoor experiences and adventures.
Alexander is married to wife Alison and the couple resides in Columbus with their two children, Mark III and Amelia.
Gaskin said pending council’s approval Alexander will start Tuesday, and he will work without pay.
“We’re going right into budget time of year and Mark has had experience in that at the state government level and so have I, but we want to get our feet on the ground. He knows a lot of the employees already at City Hall,” he said. “Mark has been in Columbus all of his life, so he’ll be a real asset in trying to move forward on the budget in a timely fashion.”