The new Shelby County Commission settled into work Wednesday at the first committee sessions of their four year term of office.
Much of the work is organizational.
The commission will elect a chairman for the next year at Monday’s session. Sidney Chism is favored by past practice because he was chairman pro tempore of the body for the last year. Commissioners Mike Ritz and Mike Carpenter will be competing for chairman pro tempore.
The new chairman would make $2,000 more than the other 12 commissioners under the proposal that goes Monday to the full commission.
Commissioners last year cut their pay to $29,100 effective Sept. 1.
At the Wednesday committee session, the six new commissioner were getting used to the computer voting screen.
Veteran commissioner were also making some adjustments.
“I’m going to call you sheriff a couple of times,” Ritz said to new County Mayor Mark Luttrell as the first committee session began. Luttrell comes to the mayor’s office from two terms as sheriff.
“We’re all friends. We’ll make it through this,” Luttrell said after Ritz lived up to his pledge several times.
New commissioner Justin Ford sat in the same spot in the committee room where his father, Joe Ford, normally sat.
He chaired an unusually lively public works committee session that involved a protracted discussion about whether county government should train its own elevator technicians because elevator companies the county contracts with aren’t meeting minority hiring goals and haven’t been for years. The item was deferred for a month.
Luttrell’s first six appointees got committee recommendations with no hitches. The full commission will vote Monday on them.
The two new faces commissioners will work the most with are Harvey Kennedy, the new Chief Administrative Officer, and Kelly Rayne, the new Shelby County Attorney.
Rayne, who is returning to the county building after a brief stint as the city’s Deputy CAO, was referred to by Luttrell as a “utility infielder.”
“You can put her just about anywhere,” he said. “She keeps me honest.”
She replaces Brian Kuhn who is retiring from a crucial role in providing legal advice to county government as a whole.
Commissioner Steve Mulroy noted that Kuhn walked a fine line between legal matters and policy matters without crossing into policy.
“That line isn’t always respected,” Mulroy noted before getting assurances that Rayne would respect the same line.
“That’s not to say we don’t also respect conservative bias,” cracked Commissioner Wyatt Bunker.