Mayor Johnson has choices to make

Johnson has been meeting with prospective appointees but has not announced whether he plans to keep any of Melton’s people or who might replace them.

Here’s a look at who occupies the top jobs in the city and whether they are likely to stay or go:

Shirlene Anderson

Title: Homeland security coordinator
Salary: $65,911.92
Why she may stay: Melton created the job for Anderson when he removed her as police chief. As the only person to hold the position, Johnson may elect to keep her for her experience working on homeland security issues.
Why she may go: Anderson was one of Melton’s more personal appointments and is a visible reminder of the prior administration. Anderson had worked for the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics before becoming the city’s first female police chief. She often accompanied Melton on patrols in JPD’s mobile command unit.

Thelman Boyd
Title: Public works director
Salary: $86,458.08
Why he may stay: Boyd worked for Johnson as the deputy director of public works before being named director under Melton. Boyd says he wants to keep his job but has not talked to Johnson about his chances. “I still have an interest in staying on and working in the next administration,” he said.
Why he may go: The public works director oversees the city’s streets and utilities. Both issues were heated topics this campaign season, and Johnson has promised to deliver improvements.

Vernon Hughes
Title: Fire chief
Salary: $94,688.40
Why he may stay: Unlike police chief, there is less political heat in naming the top slot in the Fire Department. Hughes has served nearly two years as chief with little complaint. He may be allowed to stay.
Why he may go: Like many appointments, Johnson just may have another name in mind. Hughes said he would like to stay on and has talked with some members of Johnson’s transition team.

Tyrone Lewis
Title: Interim police chief
Salary: $86,557.92
Why he may stay: The Police Department is starved for stable leadership. Over the past two decades, JPD has averaged a new chief every 1› years. Lewis rose through the ranks and appears well-liked inside the department.
Why he may go: With crime a top issue in the campaign, Johnson may feel it necessary to personally select a new chief. Lewis said he hopes he can make a case to stay on. Either way, Lewis may be around a while. When first elected in 1997, Johnson took a long time to appoint his first chief, and Walter Zinn, Johnson’s campaign manager, said a decision on who will be chief will be made at a “prudent” pace.

Sarah O’Reilly-Evans
Title: City attorney
Salary: $114,100.32
Why she may go: O’Reilly-Evans has filed paperwork to leave the city June 30. It is likely Johnson wants to pick his own attorney to this key advisory position for any mayor.

Clarion-Ledger
6/29/9