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Thompson tapped for council president, members sworn in

By Staff
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
When newly elected city councilman Kenny Thompson looked out on the crowd gathered at city hall Monday night, he said it was good to see smiling faces.
"Let's hope we all continue to look out in the audience and see smiling faces," he said, drawing a laugh from those gathered to see the swearing-in of Hartselle's new mayor and city council.
Thompson, Bill Drake, Mark Mizell, Samie Wiley and Bill Smelser and Mayor Dwight Tankersley took their oaths of office Monday night. The change marked a complete turnover in Hartselle's city government, with every incumbent losing their bids for reelection. Each member of the new administration wore navy blazers and khaki pants to the swearing-in, an idea of Tankersley's he said was designed to show unity among members.
Tankersley becomes the city's first mayor not to have a vote on the city council. By state law, a mayor of a city with a population larger than 12,000 does not have a vote in council matters. He can veto a resolution, but that veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. Tankersley plans to sit with the council however, occupying the far right seat on the platform.
The main purpose of Monday's meeting was to elect a council president and pro-tem. The duties of the council president have increased due to the change in the mayor's role. The new president will be responsible for setting the meeting agendas and will preside over the meetings.
Thompson, who has served three past terms on the council, was unanimously elected president. Mark Mizell, who is serving his first term of office, was elected mayor pro tem. He will preside over the meetings in Thompson's absence.
The council also approved the reappointment of City Clerk Rita Lee, Fire Chief Rickey Joe Smith and Police Chief Ron Merkh. One of the first mayor decisions will be to appoint a replacement for Smith, who is retiring Nov. 1.
The new council members each said they were excited about the opportunities in front of them, but conceded that things may be rough at the start.
"We may have to take a few steps backwards before we can take some steps forward," Drake said.