In a city dominated by black Democratic politics, Jackson Mayor Frank Melton has nominated a second conservative, white male in two months to an important post in city government.

The nomination of former state Rep. John Reeves to replace Municipal Court Judge Melvin Priester is on today’s City Council agenda, but action likely will be delayed until a scheduled confirmation hearing next week.

Melton said the only thing that matters to him is whether Reeves can do the job, not the color of his skin or his political affiliation.

“That has no relevance to me,” he said. “I don’t know if he is a Democrat or a Republican. I don’t care.”

Council President Leslie Burl McLemore supported Reeves’ failed bid to return to the Mississippi House, but Monday he said he could not support him for Municipal Court. The Jackson Municipal Court should look like Jackson, he said.

“I like John Reeves personally,” McLemore said. “But for this position, quite frankly, he is replacing an African-American male on the Municipal Court, and I think we need some balance. I think we need an African- American female.”

As for Melton’s position on race as a factor in appointments, McLemore said the mayor “has played both sides of that issue.”

On Monday, Ward 4 Councilman Frank Bluntson voiced his frustration with the pace of council’s confirmations.

“It’s not fair for the process,” he said. “Vote them up or vote them down.”

Ward 7 Councilman Marshand Crisler, a possible swing vote for Reeves’ confirmation, said he is leaning toward approving Reeves.

“I am strongly considering his nomination,” he said. “He has a very good reputation in the Legislature. He’s been very helpful for Jackson in his legislative role.”

Crisler said he believes the council is looking bad in the public’s eyes by “taking shots at the mayor’s appointments.”

“I don’t think the council ought to be accountable for the makeup of the administration,” he said. “Those are his appointments.”

But he admitted Melton’s choices seem a little maverick for the city.

“Here’s a guy who proclaims he is a Democrat, and every time we turn around he’s bringing forward a Republican,” he said. “But that ball shouldn’t be in the council’s court.”
Clarion Ledger
7/29/8