Barbour transition co-chairs reflect his call for diversity

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
Nov. 12, 2003
JACKSON Moving to build what he called a "bi-partisan, bi-racial" administration, Gov.-elect Haley Barbour on Tuesday announced the co-chairs of his transition team.
One, former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson, is a distinguished Jackson attorney who once handled legal affairs for the NAACP. The other, George Schloegel, is president and chief executive officer of Gulfport-based Hancock Bank.
Echoing a campaign theme, Barbour said both selections represent the "high quality, proven leadership I want to be the hallmark of my administration.
As transition team co-chairs, Schloegel and Anderson will recruit personnel to lead state agencies under Barbour for the next four years. Barbour said his transition team would focus on finding successful, experienced people to "help us implement the mandate for change" voters sought on Nov. 4.
Two members of the transition team, Barbour said under questioning from reporters, will be Jimmy Heidel of Vicksburg, who headed the state's economic development efforts for eight years under former Gov. Kirk Fordice, and former state Rep. Charlie Williams of Senatobia, who switched parties and ran unsuccessfully for governor in the 1999 Republican primary.
Anderson, the first black justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court since Reconstruction, was a circuit court judge when Barbour first began to practice law. He said he had three conversations with the governor-elect before agreeing to co-chair the transition team.
Anderson, Mississippi associate counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1967-75, was on the state Supreme Court from 1985-90. He is a partner in the Jackson law firm of Phelps Dunbar LLP.
Serving on the Barbour transition team represents a second go around for Schloegel, who was on the transition team of former Gov. William Winter, a Democrat elected 24 years ago.
Schloegel said he can serve equally well with Democrats or Republicans. But one of his primary appeals this year may be geographic.
He is a respected businessman representing a key area of the state south Mississippi where Barbour and incumbent Gov. Ronnie Musgrove fought especially hard for votes. Many south Mississippians felt their region had been largely ignored by Musgrove over the past four years.
Barbour carried the coastal counties in the Nov. 4 election en route to winning about 53 percent of the votes cast in a huge turnout statewide.
Barbour said Schloegel was especially well versed in economic development issues such as workforce development, "an issue about which I care very much." In 2001, Schloegel was named by Musgrove to chair the Mississippi Workforce Training Investment Board.
One surprise at Barbour's afternoon news conference was the attendance of Gary Anderson, a Democrat who headed the Department of Finance and Administration under Musgrove before resigning to run for state treasurer. Gary Anderson lost to Republican Tate Reeves on Nov. 4.
Barbour had a quiet word with Anderson and later said he thought Anderson could be helpful in the transition.
Here's a glance at the co-chairmen of the transition team for Republican Gov.-elect Haley Barbour:
Reuben Anderson of Jackson
Education: Bachelor's degree from Tougaloo College. Law degree from University of Mississippi.
Professional experience: Partner in Jackson law firm Phelps Dunbar. Mississippi Supreme Court justice, 1985-1990. Circuit judge, 1982-85. Hinds County judge, 1977-82. Jackson municipal judge, 1975-77. Partner in Anderson, Banks, Nichols &Stewart, 1968-77; former associate counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.
Other: Serves on boards of directors for BellSouth, the Kroger Co., Mississippi Chemical Corp., Trustmark National Bank and Burlington Resources. Former chairman of the Mississippi Economic Council.
George Schloegel of Gulfport
Education: Bachelor's degree from University of New Orleans. Graduate of Northwestern University and Louisiana State University.
Professional experience: Started working for Hancock Bank while in high school in 1956, named president and CEO in 1990.
Other: President of Mississippi Bankers Association, 1997-98. Founder and first chairman of Coast 21. Board member of Mississippi Power Co. and Mississippi Council for Compulsive Gambling. Has served as state chairman of Leadership Mississippi. Served on the board of Mississippi Job Corps training for Democratic Gov. Bill Allain in 1980s. Served on transition team for Democratic Gov. William Winter in 1979.
The Associated Press