Ex-airport official sues to block regional board

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A Jackson man says he isn’t waiting for city officials to attempt to block legislation that says who will control the airport.

Jeffery Stallworth filed a federal lawsuit April 6 against Gov. Phil Bryant, the Legislature, the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the East Metro Parkway claiming that the law, which had not received legislative approval at the time, violates his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

“Anything that’s taken from property I’m vested in is taken from everyone in Jackson,” said Stallworth, who served on the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) from 2013 to 2014.

Stallworth said he decided to act rather than wait on the city of Jackson, whose officials have also vowed to consider legal action over the controversial airport legislation, because the city was moving too slowly.

Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to sign the bill, one of the session’s most contentious, which replaces the five-member JMAA, whose members are appointed by the mayor of Jackson, with a nine-member board consisting of picks from the governor, lieutenant governor and Jackson officials.

Stallworth’s suit, filed in federal court in Jackson, also claims he has suffered emotional distress and would be irreparably harmed by the reconfiguration of the airport board. The suit seeks to enjoin the law from going into effect and seeks unspecified damages.

Emails to the Mississippi attorney general’s office, which defends the state against lawsuits, were not immediately returned this afternoon.