Despite a new law recreating the Jackson Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport board, the governor and lieutenant governor have agreed to maintain the status quo for the time being, a federal judge noted in a court filing on Monday.
The law went into effect July 1. It would replace the five-member board of commissioners selected by Jackson officials with a nine-member commission appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and supervisors in Madison and Rankin counties as well as Jackson officials.
However, in late June, the city of Jackson and members of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority asked to join an existing lawsuit filed by local resident and former airport board member Jeffery Stallworth seeking to block the reorganization of the airport board.
Attorneys for the state filed a motion Tuesday arguing that Stallworth lacks the legal standing to sue. The papers also claim the Legislature and the governor can’t be sued for their official actions.
A hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction was rescheduled until after the July 1 date when the new law would have taken effect. Court documents signed by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves show that a telephone conference now is scheduled for July 20.
The plaintiffs argue that the airport legislation “seeks to ‘take,’ ‘convert’ or otherwise ‘strip’ the City of property rights and municipal purposes.” Supporters of the law, including Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, say the state created the airport board and therefore has the authority to reconfigure the body.
Rankin County named Chance Carter, of Community Bank of Brandon, as its selection to the new regional airport authority created by the Legislature. Madison County selected retired air guardsman Brig. Gen. Bob Matthews as its representative to the board.
In addition to the Rankin and Madison representatives, the adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard and the head of the Mississippi Development Authority would also sit on the authority, under the new law.
Brig. Gen. Janson Boyles will replace Augustus Collins as adjutant general when Collins retires in September.
The governor would get to name two others to the board, but they must live in the city of Jackson.
The mayor of Jackson gets one selection, who would serve a one-year term initially, as would the Jackson City Council.
Mayor Tony Yarber has said that he would not make a selection. Neither Bryant nor Reeves responded to requests for comment.