Florence hotly debates clerk decision
It took two attempted appointments and a debate between Florence council member Matthew Williams and mayor Bill Harris, but Dana Gayle eventually was chosen as city clerk.
Gayle, who served as the city’s interim city clerk, was not Harris’s first choice, but his original was decried by Williams during Monday’s city council meeting.
“Out of all the applicants we discussed in executive session I felt this was the least paralleled with my views and thoughts on the future of Florence,” Williams said. “I don’t know this person but I have to make the best decision I believe is in Florence’s interests.”
He expressed concern that the candidate, Ida French, had a criminal record from 2013.
Harris’s decision drew criticism from multiple community members.
“I hope the council all knows they can stop you at any appointment or anything you do,” resident Jeannie Mierowsky said. “You can give them advice and lead them, but they tell you what is to be done.”
Any concerns could have been expressed by Williams in executive session while reviewing applicants instead of waiting until Monday, business owner Sara Dawson said.
It was an example that everyone in the community needed to let go of petty differences and put forth more effort to work together, she said.
Williams thought French was unfit to be city clerk and he made a motion to overturn the appointment.
The motion died for lack of a second. Harris retracted his appointment.
“The only thing I had to go by is our city codes and handbook that were written way before I was here, our resolutions that have been since I was here and the job classifications we had on file,” Harris said.
One of his concerted efforts as mayor has been trying to update employee handbooks and job descriptions to be more defined.
Williams nominated Dana Gayle for the permanent position. The decision was split 2-2 on the first vote, but Gayle was approved 4-0 in a re-vote.
Gayle has been filling the duties of three positions for several months, serving as a part-time utility clerk and training to be water operator in addition to being interim city clerk.
“Every day is crazy busy for me but I am doing them all,” she said.
There are stipulations that come with Gayle becoming full-time city clerk since she is working to receive the required high school diploma.
Looking into having drug tests for all city employees would be a new priority as well, Harris said.
Mierowsky was approved as the council’s newest member after Ken Hoffman resigned, which he said was because of personal reasons.
Last modified Aug. 19, 2020