Waites’ retirement has Public Service Commission headhunting

JACKSON — The Mississippi Public Service Commission is searching for nominees for a new director of the state Public Utilities Staff, which is the Commission’s advisory body.

The Commission regulates Mississippi electric, gas, water, sewer and telecommunications utilities.

Utilities Staff director Bobby Waites has announced he will retire June 30. He has no immediate plans.

“I’m going to spend some time with my family. At some point I will look at getting in to something else,” Waites said.

The advertising process for the appointment has begun. By June 30 the Commission hopes to submit three to six names to Gov. Haley Barbour, who will appoint the director, as required by law.

Waites began serving as deputy director of the Utilities Staff in 1990 under its first director, Bill Wilkerson. Gov. Kirk Fordice appointed Waites as director in 1996, when Wilkerson retired.

The Commission is not expressly forbidden from hiring someone from the utility industry to hold the position. The Commission is also not required to hold hearings on the candidates. The director can be reappointed for consecutive six-year terms.

Commissioner Brandon Presley issued a press release that he will not support an “industry insider,” or candidate who has previously worked in the public utility industry, for the position.

Presley also said he supports “a process for selecting nominees that is open and transparent, including open hearings for questioning of those individuals being considered.”

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