Americus City Council Black Members Must Replace City Attorney Jimmy Skipper

September 2018
City attorney Jimmy Skipper

Staff Reports

It has been almost one year since the citizens of Americus, GA voted to elect a Black majority City Council. The four Blacks that make up the majority on the City Council to this point have continued with the current City Attorney, Jimmy Skipper. One of the first expected mandates by many among the Black leadership community in Americus would be the hiring of a new City Attorney. The Americus Sumter Observer asked Reverend Matt Wright, President of the Sumter County NAACP branch, what are some of their expected changes with the elected Black majority on the city council and he immediately responded that the first change expected was “… to replace Jimmy Skipper.” Reverend Wright stated that “…our NAACP has had problems with (Jimmy) Skipper when he was the school board attorney and as the city’s attorney. ”

Reverend Wright continued with the concern that “Jimmy Skipper tried to pull a fast one over on the Blacks who made up the majority on the Sumter County School Board, by attempting to send a letter to the Secretary of State for

elections with school districts that had two At-Large districts and pretended that the majority Blacks agreed with the plan.” Reverend Wright contends that Skipper only had informed Dr. Michael Busman about the alleged election approval letter but the school board Chairman, Ann Green, found out about it and intercepted the erroneous letter before it was sent to the Secretary of State. Jimmy Skipper subsequently resigned amidst the rumors that the school board was deciding to look for another attorney”

“We have made the City Council members aware of the dangers of having an attorney who is employed by them but allegedly works only for the minority of white members on the board; knowing the current attorney’s propensity for deception with the school board, says Dr. John Marshall, NAACP past president. Upon review of
progress since the election, the community leaders realized the city council Black members do not have the amount of experience, insights, and perspective of the current Blacks on the school board; and we have been patient with them as they sort through what to do with Skipper,” says Marshall.

Marshall continues, “We are so very proud of our city council members [Juanita Wilson, Daryl Dowdell, Nelson Brown, and Kelvin Pless] and we know they will do the right thing as responsible government leaders. However, we know Jimmy Skipper and we are afraid his advice will not be in their best interest.

For example, former City Councilwoman Shirley Reese, who happens to be Black, offered a motion to stop citizens from addressing the city council. We were certain Skipper would advise the previous majority White council that such a move is unconstitutional. He didn’t stop them; in fact, he produced an ordinance in
support of keeping taxpayers from speaking to the city council. It is this type of advice that Jimmy Skipper gives that makes our NAACP leadership cry out to the current Blacks on the City Council to find an attorney who will operate in the City Council’s best interest, and do it fast. ”

Finally, Reverend Wright says he is concerned that “there are two active lawsuits that are in the GA Court of Appeals about Jimmy Skipper’s ordinance that wouldn’t allow Sumter County citizens to speak to the City Council. The current council members know that the ordinance was designed to stop a selective group of people from speaking. We know that Skipper has since changed the rules and people can speak but the case has to be settled because it was filed before the change was made to permit speaking.”

“I am pleading to the four Blacks on the City Council to find an attorney to represent the entire Council and not the minority few, and do not keep one who has such a racist and devious past dealing with Blacks in government. What he did to Ann Green and the Blacks on the school board and his ordinance against citizens speaking at the council are more than enough grounds to replace Attorney Jimmy Skipper,” Marshall concludes.