Politics » Politics Feature

Mattila Gets Trustee's Job on Party-Line Vote

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When it was all said and done, the only real issue in the appointment of Paul Mattila as interim Shelby County Trustee on Monday was whether the party line would hold. It did: All seven Democrats on the Shelby County Commission voted for Mattila, and that was enough to elevate Mattila, who had long served as the late Trustee Bob Patterson’s legislative aide.

Finishing second with five votes was Debra Gates, who was supported by the body’s Republicans (with one key exception) and had been serving as interim Trustee since Patterson’s death last month. In a speech to the commission before the vote, Gates noted her years of service in the department and made a plea to the commission that partisan matters be ignored in the voting. She will now presumably revert to her previous role as CAO – a position that Mattila said Monday was hers to return to.

Much advance speculation had focused on what GOP commissioner George Flinn, who was considered close to Mattila, might do. What he did was to nominate another Republican in good standing, John Wilkerson, who would earn one vote, Flinn’s. Then Flinn moved to make the appointment of Mattila unanimous. That motion failed when Republican Wyatt Bunker refused to go along.

Voting on the appointment of an interim Trustee was postponed for some time when Democrat Del Gill, in his role as chairman of the party’s primary board, made an elaborate presentation of his view that no vacancy technically existed and that therefore no appointment could be made.

Deputy parliamentarian Danny Presley excused himself from the meeting long enough to consult various statutes, as well as state Election Commissioner Brook Thompson, and returned later to authorize the vote.

Mattila has indicated he will seek the Democratic nomination for the special election for Trustee to be held on the August countywide ballot. The Republicans will also nominate a candidate for that ballot.

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