UPDATED: Kerby chosen to fill Demopolis BOE seat

Effective May 1, Olen Kerby will assume a seat on the Demopolis Board of Education.

By a 2-1-1-1 vote of the city council at a called meeting Monday, Kerby was chosen to fill the seat previously held by Ronnie O’Neal, who asked not to be re-appointed to a second term.

“I appreciate the confidence of the city council,” Kerby said. “I hope I can serve the people well; that is my intention. I want to do a good job because I want Demopolis City Schools to be the best it can be. I think we have a lot to offer the people of our area.”

Mayor Mike Grayson and Nathan Hardy voted for Kerby, while Harris Nelson cast his vote for Gary Brown, Bill Meador gave his nod to Lee Pritchett and Cleveland Cole voted for Hunter Compton.

Council member Charles Jones Jr. abstained from the voting, citing the fact that he is a school system employee.

Other nominees were Lucy Chu, Chuck Smith and Chris Stewart.

Following the vote, the council then cast a ceremonial unanimous vote for Kerby, with Jones again abstaining.

Kerby said the top priority facing the Board of Education is finding a new superintendent to replace Dr. Al Griffin, who will retire June 30.

“It’s important to get someone who fits our system,” Kerby said. “As I said the other day, that person’s vision is the one that’s important. That person may not have been the right person five years ago or 10 years from now. Hopefully we can find the right person for the time we’re in right now.”

Kerby is Senior Executive Vice President of Sweet Water State Bank and Director and Manager of the bank’s Demopolis office. He added that he respects each of those who were willing to be nominated for the position. “All of them should be thanked for being willing to serve,” Kerby said. “It’s not easy to have your name put out there, and I don’t think any of them did it for personal reasons other than to serve. Any one of them would have been a good choice.”

Monday’s meeting opened with a 35-minute executive session to discuss good name and character. A member of the media in attendance questioned the closed session, citing that “good name and character” must involve issues of ethical conduct, moral turpitude or suspected criminal activity.

The media representative indicated that a nominee’s qualifications, outside those moral and ethical parameters, must be discussed in open session.

The Mayor was asked to acknowledge that one or more of the candidates’ character met the criteria for closed discussion, but he declined further comment before the council went into the executive session.