The board unanimously approved appointing Tammie Williams to the seat after going into executive session for almost 20 minutes.
The board cited discussion of general reputation and character for the executive session after it was deadlocked in its decision to appoint a new member.
Before the executive session, board members Dr. Eric Hicks and David Murphy were in favor of appointing Robert Simmons to fill the unexpired term of Mike Price, who died in Tuscaloosa on May 6.
“My preference is Mr. Simmons because of his long resume of working in the School System and in education,” Hicks said, adding that he had worked directly with Simmons on committees. “My first choice would be Mr. Simmons.”
Murphy also said he supported Simmons’ appointment to the seat, saying his extensive background in education carries “a little more weight.”
Board Chairman Norman Wilder and board member Cecil Fomby were in favor of appointing Williams to the vacant seat.
Fomby said Williams would add diversity to the board.
“She’s involved in the School System and she cares about our School System,” Fomby said. “I think she would give us a strong representative in District 4.”
Board members lauded the three candidates who applied to complete Price’s term, which ends Nov. 12, 2012. Williams, Simmons and Melvin Gillison applied for the job.
Wilder said he saw different strengths in all three candidates.
“I, for one, like that Mrs. Williams has children in the School System,” Wilder said, adding that she plays an active role in the schools.
He said Gillison has also worked hard in the School System for a long time, and Simmons was an excellent principal at Pell City High School.
“Luckily we have three strong candidates,” Wilder said, but he favored Williams because she has a vested interest because her children attend Pell City schools. “Ties are stronger when you have children currently in the School System,” Wilder said. “I just think it would be a better fit at this time to select Mrs. Williams.”
After the executive session, Murphy told board members he could change his vote.
Wilder said it was in the best interest of the board to make a decision Tuesday night, with Friday being the deadline to fill the vacant seat.
“We need to make the decision instead of the state superintendent,” Murphy said after the executive session. “We need to step up to the plate. … They are all excellent candidates. I could vote for either one.”
Fomby then made a motion that the board appoint Williams to fill the seat. Hicks seconded the motion.
Before the final vote, Wilder said he hopes the three candidates will continue to support the School System, but added there was only one seat open.
“It hurts me that two good individuals are not going to be selected,” he said.
The board then voted 4-0 to appoint Williams.
“I want to commend the board on behalf of the School System,” Assistant Superintendent Michael Barber said. “It’s a tough decision. … I know Mrs. Williams is going to do a great job serving as the District 4 member.”
None of the candidates were present for the called meeting.
Barber said school officials hope to have St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Charles Robinson swear in Williams by Friday.
Williams was out of state on a trip but is supposed to return to Alabama this afternoon.
Williams has been a Mays Bend resident for the past 14 years and is employed by Alabama Power Company. She holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a master’s degree in business administration from Samford University in Birmingham.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.