Jefferson County Commission

JeffCo Commissioner Tyson Objects After Two More Republicans Appointed to Board of Equalization

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

A disgruntled Commissioner Sheila Tyson left the Jefferson County Commission chamber Wednesday, saying, “the fix was in” after her nominee for the Board of Equalization failed to get the support of her fellow commissioners.

The commission reconvened its meeting from last Thursday to address the appointment of two persons to the board. Recent legislation sponsored by state Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, called for appointments to be made by July 1. The commission’s next regular meeting will follow the Independence Day holiday.

Commissioner Joe Knight nominated Jef Freeman to be the chairman of the board, but his nomination died for lack of a second. Commissioner Mike Bolin nominated Norman Pless Jr., who was approved unanimously.

Freeman and Tyrone Long, Tyson’s nominee, were then eligible to be considered to be an associate board member for Place 5.

Tyson nominated Long but no one seconded her motion. She lobbied for support and got none.

“Whether we want to admit it or not, we sit up here as Republicans and Democrats and it’s only one Democrat on there,” Tyson said. “The rest of them are Republicans. How is it fair to turn around and appoint two more?  It is what it is. We can sit here and talk all we want to. That’s exactly what it is.

“The fix was in when we got in here,” she said after Commission President Jimmie Stephens asked whether a second was forthcoming. “When you called the meeting, you already knew what you were gonna do.”

Freeman was nominated by Knight, and Bolin seconded the nomination. The motion passed 3-1 with Tyson voting no. Lashunda Scales was absent.

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Stephens said later that commissioners searched for candidates and all the candidates were excellent.

“The difficulty that we have with Commissioner Tyson’s candidate is we didn’t receive it until this morning and we didn’t have a chance to do our proper vetting,” the commission president said. “That is a very good candidate that we will do our research on and have available at the next opening of the board.”

Stephens said Tyson’s assertion that party affiliation was considered is not correct.

“That was not the case,” he said. “It was just the speed in which we had to move and the vetting that was made for the candidates that were placed in nomination prior. There was nothing that should have been or would have been partisan about this. It was just a timeliness of the presentation.”

Stephens added that with only four commissioners present, he would have produced a 2-2 tie had he — like Tyson — voted against Freeman.