Council, mayor spar over meeting attendance

Published 8:37 pm Monday, May 1, 2017

Some city council members have expressed concern recently about Selma Mayor Darrio Melton’s attendance at council meetings.

It was recently brought up in a work session in April. Multiple council members expressed the need to have the mayor or a representative from the mayor’s office present during council meetings to ask questions.

“At the last council meeting the mayor wasn’t here, the chief of staff wasn’t here, so we couldn’t ask any questions,” said Sam Randolph during the work session.

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Councilwoman Angela Benjamin expressed the same concern because Melton was not there to address council questions, but Melton is not required to attend council meetings.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the council feels it’s the mayor’s job for them to have their meetings,” Melton said in a recent interview. “You can read state statute. The statute states it’s the council’s meeting. The mayor is an invited guest to the meeting. It’s not my meeting.”

Melton said he has other ways of addressing the public, like Facebook Live and Monday’s with the Mayor, which recently started, as well as other meetings.

Melton said he also goes to ward meetings.

Council members Johnny Leashore and Miah Jackson suggested a sit-down meeting with the mayor to discuss coming to council meetings.

“I think there could be some things that we’re doing that’s not pleasant to them. All in all, it’s going to take some communication,” Leashore said. “All I’m saying council members is that you have some legitimate concerns, but I think we need to sit down to get these issues on the table, and we can get them resolved by talking.”

Jackson suggested asking Melton to come to specific meetings if there was something important the council needed to discuss with him.

Melton said he is available for council members to discuss concerns, such as work orders or specific issues in their wards. Melton said some of the questions council members ask during work sessions or council meetings can be handled through emails or phone calls.

“I think it is unfortunate that the council feels crippled by the mayor not being at their meeting when their responsibility is to do resolutions, city ordinances, to make sure they do their judiciary responsibility to the city,” Melton said. “Those are their primary responsibilities. The day to day operations of the city falls on the office of the mayor.”