With the coming retirement of the city clerk, members of the governing body are at loggerheads over her successors. The city’s governing body on Monday evening is set to decide on a deputy city clerk and a city clerk.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, said Monday’s meeting was intentionally scheduled on a day he will be unable to attend the deliberations. Morris said Julio Tavarez, council president, who schedules the meetings, dragged his feet on putting forth the resolutions to select a new set of high ranking clerks.
Tavarez waited until last minute to put the resolutions on the agenda, said Morris. The agenda includes a resolution to appoint Sonia Gordon, current deputy clerk, as the city clerk succeeding Jane Williams-Warren.
It also includes two other resolutions appointing the deputy clerk: a resolution to appoint Joan Campbell-Douglas as deputy clerk; a resolution to appoint Audrey Cartright as deputy clerk. Only one of the women can be appointed as a deputy clerk.
Campbell-Douglas was hired in April 1999; Cartright was hired in October 2010. Williams-Warren, who is retiring this month, in a letter recommended the council appoint Campbell-Douglas as deputy clerk. Gordon and Campbell-Douglas are both African-American which resulted in the increased calls for diversity at the leadership of the city clerk’s office. Cartright is Hispanic.
Tavarez, who did not respond to an email seeking his comments for this story, is calling for more diversity in the office’s leadership, said Morris.
Morris said the office is already diverse and such calls are politically motivated. Morris said Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, promised Cartright a post in the mayor’s office during the most recent mayoral election; however, that did not materialize with Jose “Joey” Torres capturing the seat. Now, said Morris, the councilman is attempting to make up for a bad promise by appointing Cartright to the deputy clerk post.
“I never promised her anything,” said Sayegh. “But I do have the utmost most confidence in Audrey’s capabilities.”
Morris said Campbell-Douglas has 15 years of experience at the office, while Cartright has only four years. Sayegh said Cartright has the requisite experience from previous employments.
Morris said Campbell-Douglas has served in a supervisory capacity as an administrative secretary. A city hall secretary typically has a $35,000 salary; city clerk salary hovers around $100,000 while deputy clerk is roughly $70,000.
By skipping an employee, who has been with the city for more than a decade, the city may open the doors for litigation.
“We’re just asking to be sued,” added Morris.
“If she’s qualified I don’t anticipate any legal issues,” said Sayegh.
Sayegh said the posts should have been advertised, a sub-committee should have been formed to review resumes and make recommendations.
Sayegh said he encouraged Cartright, who serves as his secretary, to pursue the post.
Although divided on the deputy clerk, council members are unanimous on the appointing Gordon as the city clerk.
Council members will hold closed door discussions on Monday evening after which a new a new city clerk and a new deputy city clerk will be appointed.