Following a public notice of a closed meeting issued last week by City Clerk Kim Althoff, the Decatur City Council members convened at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel Sunday morning “for the purpose of discussing the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the public body”.
That doesn’t sound like an annual Christmas party to me, or a newly-formed Sunday morning prayer group. The words used in the closed meeting notice, suggested to me the council is moving ahead with interviewing city manager applicants. That’s been the location used at other times for city manager interviews and, by the time this column goes to press, we should know if it was a city manager applicants’ interview process that was taking place.
Besides, the council has only one employee to hire or fire — and that’s the city manager. Why hold the closed meeting at the hotel? That’s because using the city council chamber or the city council conference room at the civic center, would make it impossible to keep private the identities of those being considered for city manager. All a news reporter (or anyone else) would have to do is go to the civic center and note the people going in and out the chamber or conference room and ask them if they are applicants for the city manager’s position.
Most applicants usually have a similar position in another community and do not want it known they are looking for a job elsewhere. That’s understandable. By the way, for those who want a totally open process, I can assure you that some top candidates will not apply for the job because they don’t want to hurt their credibility with the company or public body that presently employs them. Simply applying for the position doesn’t mean an applicant is going to be hired — and he or she wants to protect the job they already have in another community.
• I WROTE extensively in this column last week about the shocking news that mayoral candidate Kara Demirjian Huss, who had secured the top spot on the ballot by filing her candidacy petitions first, dropped out of the race when she was informed by City Clerk Kim Althoff that she could not be on the ballot due to her failure to file a receipt with the city from her economic interest form. Demirjian Huss was set to challenge incumbent Julie Moore Wolfe for the seat which is up for election on April 2. Also running for mayor are Councilman David Horn and Jacob Jenkins.
After having some time to think about what had happened, and consulting with others, Demirjian Huss decided to ask the city clerk to put her name on the ballot anyway in a letter last week. She also sent an email to her supporters which read: Dear Friends, Thank you! I am grateful to you all —my love for this community and desire to serve is strong. Unfortunately, pressing events caused me to cancel the fundraiser and my appearance in the parade, but after evaluating the information that I have obtained over the past several days my campaign staff and I believe the best course of action for you is to request that my name be placed on the ballot. We have sent a letter to the City formalizing the situation and that request. Thank you all for your support and the gains you have made on my behalf. I will keep you posted. Please view and share my post on Facebook. Kara
• AS I mentioned last week in my hour on WSOY’s Byers & Co., I don’t expect the name of Demirjian Huss to be placed on the ballot simply because she requested it — and her supporters ask it to be on there. I believe her only option for this election is to run as a write-in candidate, Normally, that’s an extremely difficult way to get elected. However, because of this controversy and people upset because she wasn’t certified to be on the ballot, she probably has built quite-a-bit of momentum. She has also demonstrated the ability to raise a lot of money for her campaign, and, in a city this size with three candidates for mayor on the ballot, the prospect of doing a “write in” campaign might be appealing. As I am writing this column, Demirjian Huss, has not made a decision on how, or if, she is going to proceed with a write-in campaign.
• THE NAMES, and order, of candidates for three city council seats are: Shavon Francis, Marty Watkins, Shelith Hansbro, incumbents Lisa Gregory and Bill Faber, John Phillips, Jr. and Rodney Walker. Francis and Watkins filed their petitions first, but a lottery gave Francis the top spot on the ballot.
• RETIRED Decatur City Clerk Celeste Harris called over the weekend and it was nice to spend some time talking about her experiences in the office, before, after and during the years I was mayor. We hadn’t talked for a long time. Celeste was extremely good in doing her job and certainly always looked out for the city, the citizens and the mayor — and went the extra mile for all.
• THE BATTLE over the Macon County Sheriff’s office continues although Democrat Tony Brown has already been sworn into office after apparently winning by one vote. Now, after two uncounted votes, both for Republican Jim Root, were counted, Root is the apparent winner by one vote. There’s been a lot of “back and forth” on this race and I think the only way to settle it is for a full hand recount of the votes to take place. Then, everyone will know for sure. After nearly 40,000 votes were cast, one vote, either way, is too close not to have a recount.