Residents angered by hasty appointment to fill Beaumont's council seat

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By Elizabeth Troutman

With a hasty decision that left residents in uproar, La Grange City Council members voted Monday to fill a seat vacated in December by the late James Beaumont.Former council member Jean Knight was appointed to complete Beaumont’s term through 2008.Council members voted 4-3 to add Knight to the council, with Faith Brush, Lucy Ricketts and Joe Davenport voting against the appointment. The three council members who opposed Knight’s appointment said they wanted more time to review applications from all residents interested in the position. Jason Taylor nominated Knight, citing her experience in the community. The city council received five letters of interest from residents Bill Lammelin, Beverly McCombs, Cassie Gadberry, Jean Knight and Denise Watts Wilson. Brush said she was astounded by the lack of communication between council members. She had inquired to the council only a week after Beaumont’s death Dec. 12 about the process for filling the position. “I felt stupid, but I felt blind-sighted,” Brush said of the hasty decision. “I think that was very wrong and a disservice to the memory of James Beaumont.”Rickett apologized for the council’s lack of consideration to the other four candidates who attended the meeting. “I think we are dishonoring the people who did apply,” Ricketts said. Mayor Elsie Carter said the process was legitimate. Knight was immediately sworn-in after the vote. She abstained from voting on most of the council’s agenda, but did participate in the vote regarding a request to rezoning property for Chilewich Apartments, a proposed low-income development. Wilson, who previously served on the council, spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and told council members she was infuriated they didn’t spend more time reviewing applications from all five applicants and each of his or her qualifications. She said the council’s hasty action of the council “disgraced” the memory of Beaumont. “The city of La Grange has been greatly disserviced,” Wilson said.

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