Piedmont council appoints new member ahead of schedule
by Laura Gaddy
Nov 06, 2013 | 3058 views |  0 comments | 79 79 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PIEDMONT — The City Council on Tuesday appointed resident Mark Harper to former member Bill Baker’s seat, an unexpected vote that was two weeks ahead of schedule.

Baker became mayor in early October when the former mayor, Rick Freeman, stepped down.

The council began seeking a candidate to fill the seat on Oct. 16, but they scheduled the vote on Nov. 19 to give members time to learn about each candidate.

That plan changed when Councilman Ben Keller made a motion to select a new member Tuesday. Keller said he wanted to move forward with the vote to help the city.

“We needed to go on and get this over with,” Keller said. “We were just standing still.”

Harper, a 49-year-old Piedmont native, works as area circulation manager for The Birmingham News and said he is new to politics.

“I want to work with the council we have and get the council moving in the right direction,” Harper said. “I’m excited about it.”

He said he decided to seek the position at the urging of friends, and he hopes to work with the council to bring work and revenue to the city.

“I think it’s easy to say that, but we’re going to have to actually probably look at ways to get that accomplished,” he said.

Harper also said he plans to be a one-term council member and added that he wouldn't have sought office during an election year. The remainder of his term will last about three years.

“I think he’s committed to the city, and I think he’ll work hard to make good things happen for the city,” Baker said.

Baker added that he thinks Harper’s professional experience will help him fulfill the responsibilities of the office.

“I think he has a good business background,” Baker said. “I think he has some good financial knowledge.”

Harper is married to Angie Harper, a Piedmont Elementary School teacher. They have two daughters who attend Auburn University.

Piedmont residents Kevin Farmer and Jay Wilson also applied for the position. Four of the five council members present for Tuesday’s meeting voted for Harper.

Council member Terry Kiser nominated Kevin Farmer.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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