Biloxi council votes down mayor's nominee for fire chief

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Some Biloxi firefighters said uncertainty over who is at the helm of the department is affecting morale. The fire chief job has been vacant since David Roberts retired back in early May. On Tuesday, the city council voted down the mayor's choice.

Dozens of firefighters had a message for Biloxi leaders, stop delaying a decision on who should be fire chief.

Firefighter Jason Davis said, "The best thing for us is great morale. To be excited, and not to be wondering about whether we're going to be having a fire chief or not."

Davis spoke in favor of the mayor's nominee Anthony Shook.

With Mark Dronet serving as the interim chief, some council members questioned why Anthony Shook was the mayor's preferred choice.

"I don't understand that," said Council Member Felix Gines. "I know Mark pretty good. I think he's a fine guy, but there's no reason for me to deny it at this point unless I have more information."

The previous council put off the issue several times. But this meeting, a motion to table failed.

Council Member Paul Tisdale said, "Really, what concerns me is the longer there's a vacancy with an interim, my experience has been with those in charge of the church or school is you tend to have different camps and the polarization that occurs."

Shook's nomination was voted down five to two.

"I voted not to approve the candidate because I didn't feel he was the most qualified person to lead the Biloxi Fire Department," said Council Member and former firefighter David Fayard.

The mayor said he expected the vote to turn out the way it did.

"The fire department is a different situation than most departments. They've got a big department. They have a lot of opinions. Different opinions," said Mayor A.J. Holloway. "So we'll have an appointment up there that they'll be satisfied with next week."

The mayor didn't say who will be his new nominee for fire chief. That person selected will oversee 140 firefighters and staff members.

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