Jack Sammons is the new CAO

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The City Council voted to appoint Jack Sammons the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Memphis.

He received preliminary approval from a committee Tuesday morning, where he fielded several tough questions.

The final vote occurred in an executive session late in the afternoon.

Sammons would replace current CAO George Little.

Little will accept a new role as an assistant to the mayor for minority and women's affairs, as well as public safety.

Tuesday morning, some council members said they want Sammons to quit his current job as Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority Chairman before they vote on his city appointment.

Sammons said he will resign from the Memphis Airport Authority, as the law requires, but he had several important meetings with airlines coming up.

"My plan all along is to leave the airport the day that I start here, which is May the 9th," Sammons told WREG.

Several council members questioned the cost of this change.

Mayor Wharton vowed not to go over his executive budget.

If Sammons remains on the job a full year, his pension could double.

City Council Chairman Myron Lowery said the community was getting ahead of itself.

"The big assumption is that we will have the current mayor next year and that Jack Sammons will remain in employment. That is a big assumption," Lowery said.

Many questioned if Sammons' appointment was for the mayor to make inroads with the business community.

Sammons said he will not campaign for A C Wharton when he seeks reelection.

Airport Authority Concerns

As Sammons officially landed his new job at City Hall, his last public service job was still trying to take off.

Wednesday Southwest Airlines will add two non-stop flights to Dallas from Memphis International  thanks to work from Sammons' team.

"Our partnership is the reason why we're expanding," said Dan Landsom with Southwest Airlines. "We're operating 9 new flights to love field Memphis is the only city in that group to get two daily flights."

Landsom said Sammons helped the airline see the business potential here.

He met personally with them.

That left everyone questioning how Southwest would do without its main go to guy.

"The relentless pursuit will not go away, " said Airport Director Scott Brockman. "we'll push the ball down the field and use jack as we need to."

Brockman said they have key people to keep the conversation going with Southwest and other airlines doing business here.

"We can build this, but let's build this on a sustainable way," he said.

Sources close to the City Hall told WREG, Sammons was personally reaching out to airlines reassuring them Memphis is still ready to do what it takes to get more passenger service.

Southwest officials said they're open to keep the conversation going.

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