It’s official: Gilich to nominate Tisdale as CAO

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Paul A. Tisdale

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich is ready to move forward with his announced plans to nominate City Councilman Paul A. Tisdale as the city’s new chief administrative officer, now that the state Attorney General and Ethics Commission both have signed off on the idea, and Tisdale has agreed to work with no compensation.

Gilich made the announcement today after this morning receiving a formal written opinion from the Attorney General’s office, which said Tisdale could resign his position as councilman representing west Biloxi and serve as the city’s CAO, overseeing day-to-day operations of the city. To satisfy state statutes, both the AG and Ethics Commission have said, he would have to serve without compensation.

Tisdale then said he would serve without pay, pending confirmation of the Biloxi City Council. The CAO post would have carried an annual salary of more than $105,000. Tisdale, who turns 64 in October, would have received a fraction of the salary anyway, since he draws retirement as a retired superintendent of Biloxi Public Schools.

“This is extraordinary,” Gilich said. “To think that we have someone of Paul’s caliber and ability willing to resign a position on the City Council and serve their community in such a pivotal role without compensation. This says a lot about his love of Biloxi and his desire to make a difference.”

The mayor plans to put the issue before the council shortly.

Tisdale’s move to oversee all city departments, which must be confirmed by the City Council, means a special election will be called for Ward 5 voters to elect a new city councilman.

Gilich’s move to appoint Tisdale was prompted by the June 24 resignation of CAO David Nichols, who accepted an administrative post with Biloxi Public Schools. The mayor announced his intention to nominate Tisdale at that time, but wanted to have state approvals before moving forward.

Tisdale, meantime, has mulled the offer since the mayor first approached him. ¬†“I was very surprised when the mayor suggested this to me, since I was a member of the City Council,” Tisdale said. “I’m honored by the confidence he has in me.”

Before being elected to represent west Biloxi in 2013, Tisdale led Biloxi Public Schools with a budget and workforce similar to Biloxi municipal government.

Said Gilich when he initially announced the idea of appointing Tisdale: “Paul Tisdale is someone who will bring a great deal of leadership and experience to head our administrative team. I’ve been impressed with his eagerness to regularly attend FEMA status meetings, staff budget meetings and generally be engaged in a wide range of issues.”

Tisdale was elected to the City Council after a distinguished 36-year career in public education. He served as superintendent of Biloxi Public Schools from 2004 to 2011, and was also the superintendent of the Bay-Waveland School District from 1992 to 1996. He has a Doctorate, Master’s and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University,¬† and his career in education was highlighted by numerous national, regional and local honors. He has also served his hometown as a member of several community boards and associations.

During his tenure as Biloxi schools chief, Tisdale oversaw the re-opening of Biloxi schools less than a month after Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent realignment of school attendance zones to reflect post-Katrina shifts in population.

Two years after stepping down as Biloxi’s schools chief, he was elected to represent west Biloxi, as District 5 City Councilman, succeeding longtime councilmember Tom Wall.

Tisdale also was one of four City Councilmembers to run for mayor after the resignation of Mayor A.J. Holloway 17 months ago.
See the Attorney General’s opinion
See the Ethics Commission opinion