Letter to the Editor
Published 12:46 am Monday, March 31, 2008
Baker clarifies misrepresentation
I write this letter from Montgomery as I serve in the 2008 Legislative General Session. I want to clarify some misrepresentation in regards to the process and the subsequent appointment to fill the position of probate judge in Escambia County upon the retirement of judge Rachel Agerton effective April 1. To set the record straight, I did not nominate nor did the governor’s staff ask me to nominate an individual for the position of probate judge. Whereas the governor has the sole authority to appoint such a vacancy unless otherwise stipulated by law, I understood my role as a conduit to provide persons interested in the position with information to submit to the governor and his staff.
As judge Agerton announced her retirement, several citizens assumed the vacancy would be my decision to make. In my capacity as State Representative (actually one of three State Representatives) serving Escambia County, I made contact with the governor’s office to inquire on behalf of any persons who might be interested in the position of probate judge and to inquire specifically concerning my involvement in the process. The appointments director (Sally Robinson) of the governor’s staff was helpful to provide the information that interested applicants should provide to the governor as well as the governor’s mailing address. Ms. Robinson was also quick to assert the appointment was the sole decision of the governor and that at some point in the process that input from me or other local personal contacts (of the governor) from within Escambia County might be solicited.
To maintain the integrity of my office as State Representative and in fairness to each of the seven interested persons seeking the position (including those seeking my support), I stated to each applicant that made contact with me that I would need to remain neutral. I also disclosed that the governor and or his staff might ask questions of me (and others) at some future point in the governor’s selection process, at which I would respond to the best of my knowledge. This letter serves to clarify that I did not nominate, nor was I asked to provide the governor with a nominee to fill the position.
To conclude, I feel the governor made an excellent selection in appointing Emilie Mims (current executive director of Atmore Chamber of Commerce) to the position of probate judge as there were several applicants that appeared very capable of filling the position. I applaud each of the applicants’ interest, effort and willingness to seek such a position of service. I extend my best wishes to Emilie Mims and to the entire staff of the office of probate judge as they serve the citizens of Escambia County. Finally, I say a big “Thank You” to retiring judge Rachel Agerton for her many years of dedicated service to the citizens of Escambia County.
In Humble Service,