Jackson County

Ocean Springs hires a new public works director. It wasn’t Andre Kaufman.

The new Ocean Springs Public Works Director John Russell, left, and Allan Ladnier, who will be assistant director, both beginning Jan. 1.
The new Ocean Springs Public Works Director John Russell, left, and Allan Ladnier, who will be assistant director, both beginning Jan. 1. klnelson@sunherald.com

The Board of Aldermen hired a new Public Works director Thursday night.

Water Department employee John Russell got the job, beating out former Public Works Director Andre Kaufman.

The aldermen also voted to hire Allan Ladnier as the assistant public works director in charge of field operations.

In a tally vote to determine the final two candidates, four aldermen supported Russell, and two aldermen — Joey Bellman and Ken Papania — wanted  Kaufman. But the final vote was 6-0 for Russell. Aldermen Mike Impey was not present.

Kaufman was retired from the department for years and made the final cut for the job in October.

Kaufman is known for his his ability to get city streets cleaned after a hurricane and for a turbulent history with city politics and a questionable scrap sale fund.

The District Attorney’s office cleared Kaufman of any criminal wrongdoing involving a scrap metal fund the department kept, separate from the city general fund, the Sun Herald reported in May.

Russell and Ladnier will start their new roles Jan. 1.

Russell has 30 years with the city, 23 of them in Public Works. He said he has extensive experience in cleanup after hurricanes. Ladnier has been with the Public Works Department for 16 years.

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