Mobile City Council Fails to Elect Council President

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — In a session that brought some drama and confusion as well as surprises, the first organizational meeting of the new Mobile City Council seemed anything but organized.  The council became split over the election of a President, the person who presides over City Council meetings.

For the past four years, that’s been District 7 Councilwoman Gina Gregory has presided over the council.  But in the new term, District 1 Councilman Fred Richardson wanted a shot at it.  He went into today’s meeting with four votes including his own and three others on the council who supported him.  Those four votes were a simple majority.

However, because the Presidency was being challenged and a vote was taking place in an open meeting, the City Council attorney, Jim Rossler, said the Zoghby Act, which dictates how city government operates, there must be a super-majority–five votes.

There was an immediate discussion among council members, including Richardson, who said the council was now breaking with tradition.  Until Gina Gregory was named President, the post had been long held by retired council member Reggie Copeland.  The issue of electing a President was put on hold, with newly elected Vice-President Levon Manzie presiding.

In another surprise move, the council voted to replace attorney Jim Rossler with someone else.  Wanda Cochran was appointed and her first order of business will be to find some resolution on how the council can go about properly nominating and electing a President.

That could happen as early as Tuesday’s regular meeting.

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