Joe Knight was bearing gifts when he arrived at Tuesday’s meeting of the Jefferson County Commission.
The District 4 commissioner brought awards from the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. But beyond the awards – which included administrator of the year for retiring County Manager Tony Petelos – Knight had a prize he received, having been elected vice president of the state body of county commissions.
“We haven’t had anybody from Jefferson County in over 20 years who has been involved as an officer of that organization,” Knight said. “I, along with some encouragement from some people, decided to put my name in the hat, was nominated and then was elected last Thursday.”
As vice president, Knight is president-in-waiting, as he will assume the precedency when he is replaced as vice president. He said he hopes his move into an ACCA office benefits Jefferson County.
“We’ve become more involved with the state association,” he said. “We work with them all the time anyway. We’ve done it through the Cares Act and we’re going to do it through the Rescue Fund.
“This is a little bit more involvement by Jefferson County, to be a leader in the state, and that’s what I’m going to pursue.”
Commissioners on Tuesday approved all 78 resolutions they vetted during their committee meeting on Monday, except the one that involved a $500,000 budget increase to the Sheriff’s Department to address COVID cost increases at the county jails in Birmingham and Bessemer. That matter was carried over to next week’s commission committee meeting.
“Everything’s OK,” Commissioner Steve Ammons said after the meeting. “We just want to make sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed. I told (Sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Jones) that we don’t look good in stripes.”
Petelos was present at the meeting to receive his ACCA award. He applauded commissioners for their decision to name Deputy County Manager Cal Markert to succeed him when his retirement becomes official at the end of September.
“He (Markert) knows what it’s like to run a large organization as he was (Jefferson County) roads director and he’s been helping me for the last several years as deputy county manager,” Petelos said. “I left you in good hands with Cal and congratulations on the selection.”
Commissioners Ammons and Knight congratulated Markert for his pending promotion. Commissioner Sheila Tyson acknowledged she didn’t vote for him but believes he is the best candidate presented to them.
She said her no vote was not against Markert but against a flawed system that’s laid out by the state Legislature in the County Manager Act.
“Theo (Lawson, the Jefferson County attorney) wrote up an act that would be fair and balanced for everyone,” Tyson said. “That means for every citizen that apply for it, whether you are Black or brown. Right now, accredited colleges are the only ones that can apply for it, people that have graduated from accredited colleges for a law degree. Miles College does not qualify. Neither does Birmingham School of Law. A&M, (Alabama) State, none of those colleges qualify.”
Tyson said she hopes that matter will be corrected by the Legislature in January.