Angela Jones will join the city staff as the mayor’s executive administrative assistant and Action Center clerk.
Her first day will be July 15, according to a city press release announcing Jones’ hire, and her salary will be $55,000.
Combining the two positions, both of which are vacant, will save the city $17,000 annually, the press release said.
Jones has served almost 19 years as coordinator for finance and administration for the Mississippi University for Women, where she also supervises the university’s mail services. She was previously employed at The Dispatch.
In her new role, Jones will assist in the day-to-day operations of Mayor Keith Gaskin’s office, as well as man the Action Center, to which citizens call in complaints and concerns about city services.
Jones serves on the Crime Prevention Task Force, formed in 2020 by former mayor Robert Smith, and Golden Triangle United, a group of community members who meet to discuss diversity issues. She also mentors Columbus High School sophomores as part of the Lowndes Young Leaders program.
“I’ve known Angie for over 30 years,” Gaskin said in the press release. “She is among the most intelligent and competent professionals I’ve worked with throughout my career. She will be an invaluable asset to the city, the people, and to me as we move forward in doing the work of good government for Columbus.”
The council approved Jones’ hire by a slim 4-3 margin during an executive session Tuesday, the first meeting of the new board and administration, with Gaskin casting the tie-breaking vote.
Vice Mayor Joseph Mickens, who represents Ward 2, along with Rusty Greene of Ward 3 and Jacqueline DiCicco of Ward 6 approved the hire. Ethel Stewart of Ward 1, Pierre Beard of Ward 4 and Stephen Jones of Ward 5 opposed.
Councilman Jones — who is not related to Angela — said he believes Angela is qualified to be the mayor’s administrative assistant, but he thinks combining that role with Action Center clerk could become too much for one person. He also did not agree with hiring her behind closed doors, preferring to instead discuss her qualifications and salary in open session.
“I think she will be overwhelmed by being assistant to the mayor with all the stuff that job entails on top of doing the work as the Action Center Clerk,” he said. “If it was in open session, the public would have known what my opposition and discussion was and not just a press statement to attempt to make it seem like we were opposing the person being hired.”
Gaskin said by creating a new position, there was no need to go through the regular hiring process that would necessitate advertising and bidding for the job.
Gaskin said he was advised to address the matter in executive session because it was a personnel matter and to protect the privacy of an applicant who may not want their employer to know that they have applied for another job.
Also, he noted, the council may need to discuss an applicant’s personal attributes in executive session.