By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore attorney Karean Reynolds, elected a year ago to the District 5 seat on the Escambia County (Ala.) Commission, was chosen by his commission peers as the panel’s next chair. The selection came during the commission’s Monday, December 9, meeting.
Reynolds, who will replace District 2 Commissioner Raymond Wiggins as the body’s presiding officer, will officially become chairman on January 21. He said the nomination and selection came as a bit of a surprise to him.
“I was surprised that somebody thought enough of me to nominate me,” he said. “It will be challenging and will require a lot of research and networking. I’m grateful for the opportunity and to be considered to lead the county commission for the next year.”
County Administrator Tony Sanks said District 1 Commissioner David Stokes nominated Reynolds, District 3’s Scottie Stewart seconded the nomination and the commission voted 4-1 to validate the nomination.
District 4 commissioner Brandon Smith of Atmore cast the only dissenting vote. Smith said his vote wasn’t against Reynolds, but more of a show of support for Wiggins.
“I just didn’t see a need for a change,” he explained. “Raymond has been in there for the last three or four years, and in that time, in my opinion, he has been an outstanding chairman. He’s been fair across the board, from one end of the county to another. He wasn’t just a chairman for his district, he was fair to every district out there. He has a lot of experience and meets the public well.
“My vote wasn’t against Karean; it was just a vote of confidence for Raymond.”
Smith said he feels Reynolds will do a good job as commission chair.
“I don’t have anything against Karean at all,” Smith said. “Commissioner Reynolds is smart, he has a good personality, and I have a lot of confidence in him. My vote was not anything directed at Karean, and I explained that to him.”
Reynolds becomes the second African American to hold the commission chair. William C. America was the first. America served three terms on the commission (1987-1998) and was its chair from 1992 to 1996.
Sanks said he felt he and Reynolds would work well together.
“We’ll have to learn each other in a different capacity, but the county moves on along,” he said.
The soon-to-be chairman said he would not forget his own district as he works to improve the county’s infrastructure and make it stronger.
“I still represent District 5, but as chairman I will have to look after the strength of the whole county, not just District 5,” he said. “My focus will shift to looking at what will be best for the entire county. The commission has several ideas on how to get our roads paved at a faster pace than now. I will try to enhance those ideas and make progress.
“There will be a lot of work, and I’m going to do the best I can. I’m ready to start work.”