The earliest Jack Sammons could be confirmed as Memphis chief administrative officer (CAO) is during the Memphis City Council’s meeting on Tuesday, March 17.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton recently asked Sammons to be his second in command, according to the city’s current CAO, George Little. The move is an unexpected shakeup at Memphis City Hall that comes just eight months before the city’s mayoral election.
Sammons is the president of Ampro Industries, a Memphis-based beauty products company. He’s also the current chairman of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority. Sammons is also a past member of the Memphis City Council.
State law currently prohibits Sammons from simultaneously working for both the mayor and the airport. But new regulations are headed to the state legislature to resolve the issue, Little said.
If the law is changed in Nashville, Sammons will face a council confirmation vote in Memphis.
Little said he expects Sammons will accept the position and the two will work well together.
“I think between what Jack brings to the table from a political sensibility standpoint and what I bring from an operational and just kind of a common sense standpoint, that (Wharton will) have some more resources at his disposal,” Little said.
Neither Wharton nor Sammons could be reached for comment on this story.
Following a positive vote from council members, Little said he and Sammons will parse out a division of labor.
Little will shift his attention to some special projects around city hall, he said, like re-aligning the Memphis Police Department, cutting costs in the city’s solid waste division, bringing efficiencies to the Memphis Fire Services Division, and spearheading the city’s new Division of Minority Business Services, which Wharton introduced in his State of the City address in January.
It’s not known yet exactly what roles Sammons will fill at city hall. It is expected he will focus on shaping a strategy for the Wharton administration.
However, many have wondered how he will continue to run his private company, help re-build the Memphis airport, and serve in such a pivotal role for the mayor.
Little said he could not speak to that question but said it was important that Sammons remain in leadership at the airport.
“(The airport) is, frankly, one of the areas of frustration for a lot of folks around here and I count myself among them,” Little said. “So, we have to continue to focus on making the airport better.”
Announcements like these usually come from the mayor standing behind a podium somewhere. But Little said word got out prematurely probably because it was linked to the legislation.
“You can’t keep secrets around here too terribly long,” Little said.