About 6:15, the LR City Board began interviewing candidates for the vacancy created by Barbara Graves' resignation from an at-large seat. The person selected will serve two years and three months. Three of the 17 applicants didn't show up. It took the board about three hours to interview and consider the candidates.
Graves is running for mayor. I was reminded of the race in the afternoon when a Mark Stodola volunteer came calling at my door.
About 9:20 p.m. the Board came out of executive session, less than an hour after they went in. Candidates had lobbied the board beforehand. The best guess is that, as in most board matters, the decision was effectively reached before the board convened. And you could have called it easily.
The new city board member, nominated by Joan Adcock, was Gene Fortson. Not exactly a shock. He's a well-liked retired banker and business executive, has years of civic experience and is a wealthy white guy who lives in a high-dollar WLR neighborhood. The club still controls the city board, as always. Benevolent and public-spirited though the club may be. Fortson will retain his prestigious Airport Commission seat, another enclave of well-to-do white businessmen, for the most part. (UPDATE: I wrote this last night based on legal advice I"d been given several weeks ago. Apparently the legal thinking has changed and he's not allowed to continue dual service.) In his remarks, Fortson seemed to indicate he was only interested in serving out this term, rather than using it as a springboard for a full elected term, but I may have misinterpreted . That would be a factor in favor of his selection.. It means there'll be no candidate for that seat in 2008 with a built-in advantage granted by the board's action tonight. Appointees for this office, as most others, should not be allowed by law to succeed themselves. It's simply undemocratic.
Johnnie Pugh nominated retired LR cop Bill Cobb. Director Genevieve Stewart also voted for Cobb. The others backed Fortson.