COVINGTON — In keeping with the tradition of annually rotating the position of vice chair of the Newton County Board of Commissioners, newly-elected District 3 Commissioner Alana Sanders was appointed to the post Tuesday night.
Chairman Marcello Banes initially sought to have District 5 Commissioner Ronnie Cowan appointed to fill in when the chairman is absent, saying that postponing Sanders’ appointment would give her more time to get comfortable with the workings of the board. Tuesday night was Sanders’ first meeting as an elected commissioner.
District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards and District 2 Commissioner Demond Mason, agreed with Banes. Both said they did not doubt Sanders’ abilities, but they it would be beneficial for her to have more time to become acclimated.
“With some of the things we have going on right now in terms of litigation … it’s going to be too much for a new commissioner,” said Edwards.
Mason said all new commissioners need time to learn their role as an elected official.
“The vice chair is not an elected position; being a commissioner is the elected position,” said Mason. “I think any new commissioner that comes on the board, it is their objective to fulfill their immediate elected position, understand that role, get comfortable in that role and then take on additional leadership roles with the board.”
Sanders, who had support for the appointment from District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson, said she was ready to take on the appointment.
“The great thing about the election that I ran is that I won in June, so I’ve had six months to actually look at the board and see what’s going,” she said.
Sanders also said she is well-versed in parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order and is “well more than capable” of handling the appointment.
“God has allowed me the intelligence to do that, and I’m here to serve,” she said.
Banes sought advice from County Attorney Megan Martin on the procedure for naming a vice chair. Martin said the appointment has not always been rotated among board members, but it has been done that way since she has been working with the county for the past several years. She recommended Banes continue the rotation.
At Banes’ request, Henderson made a motion to appoint Sanders. The motion was seconded by Cowan. The vote was 3-2, with Edwards and Mason opposed.