expected to become the state's acting commissioner once Joseph H. Neely joins the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Mac Deaver, executive director of the Mississippi Bankers Association, said he expects Mr. Allison - who has years of experience within the department - to serve as acting director through the coming legislative session, which begins in January. A permanent director will likely be named after the session, he said. Mr. Neely's nomination to the FDIC's five-person board won approval from the Senate Banking Committee in September and is awaiting action by the full Senate. The former community banker from Vicksburg has been Mississippi's bank commissioner since 1992. Though the Senate has not scheduled a vote, the office of Mississippi's governor has begun considering potential candidates to replace Mr. Neely. The commissioner's position is a political appointment. "Sure, there are a number of names under consideration for that position, none of which I would list at this time," said Larry Daniel, director of public affairs for Gov. Kirk Fordice, a Republican who was reelected two weeks ago. "We don't have a timetable yet as to when we'll have a selection," he said. "We just have the election behind us, and this is one of things the governor will have to consider." Candidates for the post are required by state law to have either 10 years of banking experience, including five in a policy-making position, or 15 years of service in a state or federal regulatory post. The four commissioners since 1980, including Mr. Neely, all had banking experience. "It would blow me out of the water if the governor selected someone outside of banking," said Mr. Daniel. "He will try to find the premier person in the banking industry that he could bring into this position." The commissioner's salary is $59,200, well below the salary of senior executives at even the smallest banks. The Mississippi Bankers Association has lobbied unsuccessfully in the past to raise that salary, and it will likely try again this year, said its president, Aubrey B. Patterson, who is also chief executive of the Bank of Mississippi in Tupelo. "We hope to have some legislation that will update that position," Mr. Patterson said. "Having a vacancy pending might facilitate that process." The well-regarded Mr. Neely has made a meteoric rise from his days as senior vice president at Merchants National Bank, a $180 million-asset bank in Vicksburg, where he worked for 15 years. One of his customers there, and an eventual director of the bank, was Gov. Fordice. The two have reportedly enjoyed a close professional and personal relationship over the years. Observers said Mr. Neely will likely have a lot of input in the selection. "We are losing the finest commissioner this state has ever had," said George A. Schloegel, president of Hancock Bank in Gulfport. "But our loss is the nation's gain. As for a replacement, I have no idea."
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