Gainesville names interim city attorney

The Gainesville City Commission on Monday tapped Daniel Nee for the role of interim city attorney.

Nee, who has worked in the city attorney’s office for almost 20 years, won the interim appointment over another internal candidate.

Current City Attorney Nicolle Shalley submitted her resignation Sept. 8 to take a job in Levy County. Her last day in the office will be Nov. 10.

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The commission had initially decided to have an external search for the interim position and vote on the hire in mid-October. However, Shalley sent an email to the commission to ask that they consider appointing an interim earlier.

Shalley told the commission at its General Policy Committee meeting on Thursday that she was concerned that opening the search for interim leadership to external candidates might leave little time between her departure and the successful candidate’s hiring with the city.

She estimated that if an external candidate was hired she would only have four working days to orient the candidate and pass on her workload to them. In her email, she asked the city to consider appointing either Nee or Sean McDermott to the interim position.

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Shalley said other people in her office were qualified for the position, but Nee and McDermott, a 10-year-veteran of the city attorney’s office, were the only ones who said they were interested in serving as interim city attorney.

The commission briefly considered a motion on Thursday from Commissioner David Arreola to hire McDermott, but then decided to give a few days for commissioners to interview both candidates before making a decision.

As part of a special meeting Monday, the city commission polled its membership through a written ballot, which found Nee was favored 4-2 over McDermott. An unnamed external candidate also was on the ballot but did not get any votes.

The commission, with little additional discussion, authorized Nee’s hire Monday with a 5-1 vote. Commissioner Gail Johnson, whose resignation takes effect this week, was absent from the Monday meeting.

Commissioner Reina Saco was the only commissioner who cast a vote against Nee, but she did not comment on her decision.

Several commissioners and Mayor Lauren Poe said at Thursday’s meeting that both candidates were well-qualified for the position.

“I think Mr. Nee and Mr. McDermott are outstanding attorneys,” Poe said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in their ability to run the office and work in a collaborative and productive way with the other [charter city officers].”

Commissioners Harvey Ward and Desmon Duncan-Walker said Thursday that Nee’s additional 10 years of experience with the city attorney’s office were what tipped their support in his favor.

“I have known both of them for years and worked with them on many items in this capacity. I have tremendous faith in both of them,” Ward said Thursday. “[I recommend Nee] because he has more years in the office. I don’t think we could go wrong with either of these gentlemen.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Sean McDermott’s name. 

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