MT. VERNON — On a 10-2 vote, with one abstention, Nicole Villani was appointed by the Jefferson County Board to serve on the Sheriff’s Merit Commission.
A vacancy was created by the resignation of Donald L. Mays Sr. on June 1.
Voting in opposition to the appointment recommended by the Land, Tax and Appointments Committee were James Malone and Don Rector. Joey McDermott abstained.
The name of Kevin Sargent was recommended by the sheriff, but failed on a 3-2 vote in committee.
According to a legal opinion rendered by State’s Attorney Doug Hoffman, the sheriff has 30 days to fill the vacancy. However, if the sheriff fails to appoint a person within that time limit, the chairman has the right to make the appointment with board approval.
The Merit Commission is composed of five members and no more than three members can be affiliated with the same political party. Current commission members are Republicans Jack Richey and Jerry Corners and Democrats Mary Beth Mezo and Wilbur Haley. Mays served as a Republican member.
According to documentation from Hoffman, Sheriff Roger Mulch recommended Sargent in a letter dated Sept. 12 to Committee Chair Jeff Williams and to Board Chairman Robert White.
“It would appear the earliest the appointment of Kevin Sargent was made known was July 11, or shortly thereafter,” Hoffman wrote in his opinion. “This date falls beyond the 30-day window in which the sheriff, by statute, may appoint a suitable person to the Commission.”
During Monday’s meeting, Don Rector questioned the action of the committee. He asked if there was a problem with the appointment of Sargent, noting he would be a “great choice.” White mentioned Sargent’s current roles as assistant Mt. Vernon Police Department chief, and with the Jefferson County EMA, noting the appointment was nothing personal against Sargent. Rector requested a roll call vote, resulting in the 10-2-1 vote.