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Phenix City Council appoints Johnny Barfield to replace Chris Blackshear

By Chuck Williams

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.com

Johnny Barfield
Johnny Barfield

The Phenix City Council moved quickly on Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the city's five-person governing body.

The council appointed retired postal worker Johnny Barfield, 69, to replace Chris Blackshear for the citywide post. Blackshear, who resigned Friday, was elected to fill the Alabama House of Representatives seat vacated by the November death of Rep. Lesley Vance.

Council also voted 4-0 to move Council member Arthur Day into the mayor pro tem's spot that was also vacated by Blackshear.

Barfield ran against Blackshear and incumbent Jimmy Wetzel in August 2012 and finished a distant third with about 9 percent of the vote. Barfield will serve the remainder of Blackshear's term, which expires later this year.

The decision on who would fill the seat, according to the city charter, was left up to the remaining three council members -- Arthur Day, Jim Cannon and Gail Head -- and Mayor Eddie Lowe. They voted 4-0 on Tuesday to give the post to Barfield.

The fact that he ran for the seat nearly four years ago was a factor in the decision, Lowe explained.

"We put a process in place," Lowe said. "Anyone who ran for that seat would be considered."

Wetzel no longer lives in Phenix City and Barfield submitted his name for consideration, the mayor said.

Under the charter, the council could have appointed any resident of Phenix City because it was an at-large seat. There was a lot of interest and pressure, Lowe said.

"We wanted to follow the process that we put in place and we wanted to follow that process," Lowe said. "We came to the conclusion that so many people were calling -- and some of them were not so friendly -- that we were going to make the process simple."

Barfield said he appreciated the support from council. He does not know if he will seek the seat in August when the city elections are held.

"I don't know at this point, but I am not ruling it out," said Barfield, who lives in District 2. "I will seriously consider it."

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