The City Commission selected Kristen Bryant as the interim city clerk and approved a recruitment plan for hiring a permanent city auditor at its regular Thursday meeting.
City Clerk Omichele Nattiel-Williams submitted her resignation in April and is working out a notice until June 30. The city decided in May to conduct an internal search for Nattiel-William’s interim replacement.
Four internal candidates applied and three of those candidates met the minimum requirements for the job, said Laura Graetz, the city’s human resources director.
The candidates were:
- Kristen Bryant, who has been with the clerk’s office since March 2019, worked first as an executive assistant and then as the office’s agenda coordinator.
- Zanorfa Lynch, who is the current deputy city clerk, started with the city in 2011 as a staff specialist in the Gainesville Police Department and has worked in the equal opportunity office as a coordinator and as an executive coordinator in the city manager’s office. She has been the deputy city clerk since October 2022.
- Chianti Powe, who is a compensation analyst with the Human Resources Department, has been with the city since 2018.
All three women have graduate degrees and multiple years of experience in managerial and administrative roles.
Commissioners said the selection was a close one because of the qualifications and experience each brought to the table and a difficult one because they work directly and regularly with the candidates on a daily basis.
Mayor Harvey Ward called it an “exceptionally difficult choice,” which was reflected in the commission voting as well.
Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut first made a motion to have the mayor negotiate with Lynch to take on the interim role, but that failed 3-4, with commissioners Bryan Eastman and Ed Book joining Chestnut in voting yes.
Chestnut said she had been impressed with Lynch’s communication and supervision skills.
After that motion failed, Eastman made a motion to hire Bryant and that passed 6-1 with Chestnut in dissent.
“We have an opportunity with candidates who bring more experience outside the clerk’s office and a range of other things, and a candidate who brings a depth of experience in the clerk’s office … on a multi-year basis. And I leaned toward the multi-year basis,” Ward said of his support for Bryant.
The commission has discussed eliminating the city clerk’s position as one of the six charter officers and moving the functions of the city clerk’s office under the city manager. However, Ward said that discussion would not happen until later in the year.
The commission on Thursday also moved forward on making a permanent hire for the city auditors by selecting executive search firm Baker Tilly.
Ginger Bigbie, the previous city auditor, resigned in November and left the post in January. Brecka Anderson, the city’s assistant city auditor, has been serving as interim city auditor since then but does not wish to continue in the position in a permanent way, Graetz told the commission.
Baker Tilly is one of four search firms the city keeps on retainer. Graetz said human resources was suggesting this because they had placed the previous city auditor in the position and had experience and knowledge of the city’s requirements for the position.
The search process, which is expected to cost the city $30,000 including candidate travel costs, is expected to begin in July and conclude in October, Graetz said.