Eaton named Petal’s second city attorney

By NIKKI SMITH,

The City of Petal Board of Aldermen voted to name Rocky Eaton the second city attorney that Petal has ever had at the recommendation of Mayor Hal Marx.

The appointment was made at a regular meeting of the board on Tuesday, which was the first meeting held by the board since city attorney Tom Tyner died.

“He was the only city attorney the city has ever had,” Marx said. “He’s going to be missed. It is not going to be the same without him. But we are fortunate that we have someone available who worked alongside him, was his partner.”

Marx said there were many good choices for the position, but he felt that Eaton was the best for the job as he had the most experience with city matters.

“We have a lot of good choices, but I feel like Rocky, working alongside (Tyner), and him grooming him in a way,” Marx said.

Alderman Clint Moore made a motion to make Eaton the interim city attorney instead.

“City positions should be advertised,” Moore said. “I know we’ve already had a motion and a second, but I suggest we make it an interim position to go through proper advertising and applying.”

Moore said he felt that transparency and proper advertising was crucial before the city makes major appointments.

“I think that’s something we need to do before any of our big-time appointments,” Moore said.

“Going forward will work together on these situations to be transparent about how appointments are made for key positions in the city,” said Alderman Tony Ducker. “There is never a shortage of those who want to come forward to serve the city.”

However, Ducker said he wants to be transparent through the process.

“We have had an ordinance in place since 1974, the first ordinance they ever passed, our founding fathers in Petal saw fit that we make appointments for department heads and put that in the ordinance,” Marx said. “It has worked for 43 years.”

Marx said many people approached the board to make their interest in the position know and that the aldermen made sure that those people were well represented.

“They did their due diligence on that,” Marx said of the board. “But it is still the mayor’s appointment. Everyone is free to vote as they see fit, but I felt that Rocky was right to bring before you.”

Alderman William King said that he felt that the hiring process should be looked at for the future, but in this case the right person was chosen.

“With the annexation deal, Rocky’s been really involved in it,” King said. “Things don’t stop because we are in limbo still trying to make a decision. I would love to see us get to the point where we look at the top three and make a decision. Things change. Times change. People’s mindsets change. I’m not saying Hal that any recommendation that you bring to the board that we are going to slam or wave it on through.”

“I say we take and look, for the future, implementing the top three and letting the board review their resumes, just to get a feel for who is right,” he added. “If they’ve been doing the job for 15 to 20 years and the next position becomes available, that it is weighted heavily in their favor. I think we should entertain the idea that the board have more input, but tonight, I’m good with Rocky.”

The board voted unanimously to name Eaton the city attorney.