Jack Sammons accepts Memphis CAO position - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Jack Sammons accepts Memphis CAO position

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority chairman Jack Sammons will add the position of Memphis chief administrative officer to his resume for a second time.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. announced Tuesday that Sammons was offered the position earlier this month. It will take effect on May 8. 

Sammons served as CAO for the city for five months in 2009.

“He knows city government inside-out. He knows how business principles can be applied to improve city services and cut red tape,” Wharton said in a written statement. “Jack knows how to ensure accountability and develop a customer-centric culture, and he will use his close relationship with Toney Armstrong to continue the innovations that have led to our record reduction in crime.”

Sammons is assuming the role at a contentious time with ongoing labor negotiations and a budget season that he's not familiar with.

For the past two years, he's been board chief of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority. He says he'll remain as a special envoy to the airport when he takes the CAO job.

Sammons' hire comes as Mayor A C Wharton comes up for reelection in a heated race, but Sammons says his duty is to the city, not the mayor.

He says he will stay out of any political or campaign events and instead, focus on city operations, but one of Wharton's opponents in the mayoral race is already weighing in on the Sammons selection.

"This just confirms what I have been saying that there has to be drastic change at city hall, and we have to start at the top," Councilman Jim Strickland said.

Strickland says the move shows the mayor has admitted to mistakes and the city needs a bigger fix than a new CAO.

"We need strong and decisive leadership," Strickland said. "Not someone who takes five years--knowing that there's a problem--to make change."

 If Sammons is approved by Memphis City Council, he will replace George Little, who is expected to become a special assistant to the mayor.

The city council is scheduled to vote on the CAO appointment on April 7. If approved, Sammons' first day on the job will be May 8. The Memphis mayoral election will happen on October 8.

In the meantime, Sammons says there is a bright future for Memphis.

"Memphis is a town that is pregnant with opportunity. We've got to seize these opportunities," Sammons said.

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