Jackson’s public works director quits... again

Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 11:55 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - He’s gone... again.

Khalid Woods, the man appointed to lead Jackson’s Public Works Department resigned on Monday, a week after coming back on the job.

In a statement, Woods said he appreciated the opportunity to serve but cited the toll the position had taken on his mental health.

“Upon my return, I found that my productivity [was] not where I would like it to be. I’ve not seen the progress that I wanted to see,” he said. “Due to the stress of the position and the toll that it is taking on my mental health, I feel as though it is best that I step away from the position permanently.”

“I believe this is the best decision for the city and my family. Please respect our privacy.”

Monday marks the second time Woods resigned from the position. In August, he stepped down after less than two weeks on the job but agreed to return after he and the mayor spoke.

“One of the things that attracted me to him [was] he wants to do a good job, and his concern of what he needed to do a good job,” the mayor said, confirming Woods had returned. “He wanted to make sure there was further conversation about that.”

Even with the mayor’s support, Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes said he would not back Woods’ confirmation, citing the Navy veteran’s initial decision to step down.

“I’ve talked to people throughout my ward; we’re concerned about him quitting on the city of Jackson and now trying to come back. The city of Jackson has lost its water department, sewer department, and Greyhound bus service. It’s not too many other things we can lose in the city,” Stokes said.

[READ: Jackson Councilman to vote ‘NO’ on approving new public works director]

Council Vice President Angelique Lee said Woods needed to resign if he wasn’t fully committed to the job.

“I want somebody who is committed to stay here and help the city of Jackson with its infrastructure issues,” she said. “We don’t have time to waste.”

Woods was tapped to take over the position after a nationwide search. He was introduced as the mayor’s pick in late July. He resigned 11 days later.

On August 28, Lumumba confirmed Woods had returned after the two spoke to hammer out Woods’ concerns.

In a statement released Wednesday, the administration announced that it was resuming its nationwide search to fill the position after he and city leaders “came to a mutual agreement to part ways.”

Woods is the sixth director in about three years to head the department. He replaced Robert Lee, who is now serving as city engineer. It was not known if Lee would resume the position until a new director is found.

The next director will lead a department going through major changes. The city’s water and water billing divisions, which were previously under the director, are now under the control of a third-party manager. The federal government is proposing adding the sewer system under the third-party’s control as well.

“Public Works director is not an easy job. I respect that Mr. Woods decided to step away... when he realized that it was simply too much,” Lumumba said. “We look forward to now moving forward with our search and finding someone willing to meet the challenges of our evolving city.”

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