By Othor Cain
With only one day left before Supervisor Doug Anderson’s resignation/retirement was scheduled to take effect, he pulled the plug on it.
After 19 years in the county post, and more than 36 years in public office, Anderson had said through his daughter, Jackie Anderson Woods, that he was giving up the post due to health concerns. Anderson had suffered a stroke last December, his second one in a six-month period. His recovery from the stroke had worried his family.
But his daughter said in spite of all that, he feels a sense of duty to stay until closer to the November election because he owes it to his constituents.
“I hope people understand my dad has nothing to gain from this,” Woods said, citing the fact that some of Anderson’s support staff had also expressed concerns that they would lose their jobs if he left. “My dad is committed to the people he serves and felt in order to stop a rumored appointment it would be best if he stayed around a little longer.”
Woods said that as a family, they gathered over the holidays to make sure their dad was up for the challenge. “My dad is a very strong-willed person and when he’s committed to something, there is no stopping him,” she said. “This is something in his heart that he felt he needed to do and as a family we support him 100 percent.”
Anderson learned of rumors that the Board of Supervisors had planned to appoint Gil Sturgis, someone he said does not live in District 2.
“Once Dad found out they were going to appoint someone who didn’t live in his district because of various deals that had been cut, he decided to delay it until it gets closer to election time,” Woods said. “That way whoever wants to run can be elected by the people of District 2. He feels it would be unfair to allow the board to appoint someone who doesn’t even live in the district.”
Anderson crafted a letter during the holidays and delivered copies to all members of the Board of Supervisors citing his change of heart.
“It is certainly his prerogative to change his mind…it’s his seat,” said Robert Graham, Hinds County Board of Supervisors president. “I respect the fact he wants someone that lives in District 2 to represent the residents of that district.”
Had Anderson’s resignation taken effect, a state statute would have allowed the board to reach a consensus on selecting an interim replacement pending a special election Nov. 5, 2013. If the board could not reach a consensus, the seat would have remained vacant until the election.
Supervisors asked the attorney general’s office to decide the question because they disagreed on the interpretation of state law addressing county official vacancies. There is some contention that a special election could be held in the spring.
Mississippi Code states if the unexpired term is longer than six months, the appointee will serve until a successor is elected. A successor is elected for the unexpired term by qualified electors at the next regular special Election Day occurring more than 90 days after the occurrence of the vacancy.
Sturgis told reporters that he was disappointed that Anderson decided to rescind his resignation. “I’m disappointed that Supervisor Anderson decided to take this course, or whoever decided to take the course for him,” Sturgis said.
The next regularly scheduled Hinds County Board of Supervisors meeting is Monday, Jan. 7, at 9 a.m.