City Council appoints Murdock to BOE

The Demopolis City Council put to bed a long-debated issue Thursday, appointing Conrad Murdock to the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education seat currently held by Bobby Armstead.

Armstead’s second term on the BOE expired in April, bringing to a close his 10-year run on the board. Efforts to appoint a replacement for Armstead have consistently drawn contentious discussion among the council as it has gridlocked for months over whether to appoint Murdock or Freddie Armstead Jr. to the seat.

Discussion of the matter was not initially on the agenda Thursday night but was added at the urging of Councilman Mitchell Congress, who has long voted in favor of Freddie Armstead Jr.

When the council reached the BOE agenda item, Congress stated his desire that the legacy of this administration be something other than discord and gridlock. Congress then motioned the council approve the appointment of Murdock to the Demopolis City Schools Board of Education. Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson seconded the motion. Congress, Grayson and Councilmen Jack Cooley and Bill Meador voted in favor of the measure, passing it with a 4-0 vote due to the absences of Thomas Moore and Melvin Yelverton.

“I felt that this has been a divisive issue not only for this council, but for the city at large. I think it has been viewed as being personal toward the nominees and it was not,” Congress said. “I think we got so caught up in the politics of it that we lost sight of the fact that these are citizens that deserve to be given due consideration. I think we need to go ahead in this administration and bring this situation to a close. That’s something that we should not have passed onto the next council when we were more than capable of doing that.”

Congress furthered to state his hope that the appointment will signal a change in the culture of the current council and allow the new administration, which will be installed in November, to have a fresh start.

“I felt that as a council member that will be in the next administration, I wanted a fresh start to the new administration, to the new council with the new people on it, to go ahead and fill this vacancy and to move forward,” Congress, who was re-elected in August, said.

“In the scheme of the big picture, I would hope this would be a taste of what’s to come. Perhaps we do have a sense of ‘Let’s break the gridlock and let’s move forward and get some things done,’” Grayson said.