CAIRO -- Mayor Dan Wells vetoed a vote by the Cairo City Council not to hire Farrell Siler as fire chief during a meeting Monday night. Siler was appointed as acting fire chief in July following the retirement of former chief Jerry Pearce.

Councilman Earnest W. Cloud made a motion to install Siler as chief after much discussion by the council and from citizens in attendance. That motion was defeated by three nay votes from members Adrian Clark, Bobby Gwaltney, and Rosa Ann Hadden. Lannis Thornton voted for the motion, which was defeated 3-2.

The mayor's veto will force another vote on the matter at the next council meeting on Aug. 30. Clark said the council wants to hire the best person for the job. Some members don't think Siler has enough experience yet.

"If he proves himself, I'd consider him for the job," Clark said. "The people elected me to hire the best people I can find and that's what I'm going to do. We voted him in as interim fire chief, and we want him to prove himself."

There are no other candidates for the position, Clark said, and he would have no problems voting for Silas as fire chief once he gains more experience. Some have suggested that there are racial implications to the council's vote.

Siler is black, as are the two councilmen who voted for his promotion. The three members casting nay votes are white, as is the mayor who essentially negated their votes. Clark denies allegations of racism.

"This is not a racial issue. This is strictly a business matter," he said. "I'm only interested in hiring the best man for the job."

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