Council to appoint new member

Published 6:40 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

WEST POINT— The West Point City Council is expected to make an appointment on its vacated seat Monday night at its council meeting, but council members are staying quiet about who is favored to take that seat.

The council has three individuals to choose from to fill the seat that has been open since Jan. 14 when Benjamin Wilcox stepped down from his seat to accept the position of city municipal court assistant judge.

Former Lanett Police Department Investigator Tracy Bandy, West Point Resident Amanda James and former Mayoral candidate Deedee Williams are the three choices to fill the seat.

Bandy is a lifelong West Point resident with a long career of service to municipalities. His career started in the city of West Point in the parks and recreation department in 1987. In 1992, he served as a firefighter and eventually became an arson investigator for the LaGrange Fire Department. He left the fire department in 2000 and landed in the Lanett Police Department in 2001.

According to his resume submitted to the city, he served as a patrol officer working his way up to chief investigator and was commander of the criminal investigations.

Bandy pleaded guilty in October 2015 to misdemeanor obstruction of governmental operations, stemming from a 2012 indictment, according to court documents.

James said she has more than 10 years of experience in multiple industries such as marketing, retail, real estate, automotive and transportation. Her most recent employer was MainStreet Family Urgent Care in Valley where she served as the community educator.

She also has a couple stints as a business owner. According to the resume she submitted to the city, she was the owner of Thrifty Kids, LLC in LaGrange, selling the business in 2017 and co-owner J & J Rental Properties, which renovated rental properties.

James also volunteered in the Hosanna Home in LaFayette and placed a Little Free Pantry outside her West Point Home for anybody in the community to pick up or leave a book or food. Williams ran for mayor in 2017, slimly losing out to current Mayor Steve Tramell. Williams currently works for the Georgia Department of Labor since 2016. She has been involved in many area organizations, including the Georgia Economic Development Association, Southeastern Economic Development Association and the West Point Development Authority. She served on the board of directors for the Valley United Fund, WPS Credit Association and Chattahoochee Hospice. She has also served on the LaGrange College Board Trustees and was named the Troup County Chamber of Commerce Diplomat of the Year for 2018.

At Thursday’s work session, the council wanted to know the process in place for appointing a new member. City Attorney Jeff Todd said it was a simple process.

“All it would take is a motion and second and then a vote by the second,” he said.

Councilwoman Sandra Thornton said the council was most likely asking questions because the last time it appointed a council member, it was through a secret ballot.  Todd said the votes would have to be made in public.

“A secret ballot is not available,” he said. “Under the open meetings act, every vote has to be recorded, up or down, individually.”

Tramell attempted to get a feel of how things were going to go when a motion was made, but the council seemed to want to keep things quiet until a vote was held.

“Usually by the time we get to a business session, we’ve gone through a couple work sessions and we know how each other feels, but I haven’t heard from you all on this one,” Tramell said. “We all work together really well until this process — this is different from what we have done from the past.”

He said he’s fine with the thoughts of the council staying quiet until Monday night.

“We can go into Monday with everybody close to the vest, that’s fine,” Tramell said. “We can just open it up to a motion if that’s what everybody else wants to do.”

Councilman Henry Hutchinson said it’s time to make a decision between the three candidates in front of the council. He said if the council feels none of the candidates are qualified — that’s fine, too, but it has to move forward.

“I feel like we created a process that was honest and fair to the city of West Point, and we have three candidates that stepped up to the plate by putting their names in and out front to try and help us out,” he said. “I think we have three candidates to choose from, and I think it is only right to move forward and make a decision.”

The next council meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 8.