February 19, 2014 10:22:45 AM
In a 3-2 vote, the Columbus City Council named Greg Lewis to the Columbus Municipal School Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
Lewis will replace sitting board member Aubra Turner, whose term expires at the end of the month.
Before the vote, Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor recused himself, saying that he was related to one of the applicants, James Samuel.
Taylor's recusal prompted Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem to ask city attorney Jeff Turnage if Taylor's action was proper.
"I think it would be premature to recuse just because (Samuel) applied unless he is being considered for a vote," Turnage said.
Karriem then responded, "I want the minutes to reflect that Councilman Taylor could have voted on this very important board position and chose not to."
Karriem then nominated Lewis with Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner seconding the motion. The vote passed 3-2 with Karriem, Turner and Ward 2 Councilman Joe Mickens in favor and Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box and Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin opposed.
Box asked if Lewis would resign from his position on the Housing Authority Board. Mayor Robert Smith said the city does not have a policy stating a citizen cannot serve on two board, which Turnage confirmed.
After the meeting, Taylor said he felt recusing himself from the vote was the right thing to do.
"I'm not going to put a family member on a board nor will I exercise to vote against one," he said.
Taylor isn't the only councilman related to an applicant. Councilman Turner is a cousin to Aubra Turner.
Turner had served on the board since December 2011 when she was appointed to complete the term of Alma Turner, who resigned for health reasons. Aubra Turner and Alma Turner are not related.
Lewis, who works as programs director for Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority, will serve a five-year term on the school board beginning in March.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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