GNV starts internal search for interim clerk 

Gainesville City Clerk Omichele Gainey.
The city of Gainesville will open a search to replace City Clerk Omichele Nattiel-Williams.
Courtesy City of Gainesville

The city of Gainesville will open an internal search for an interim after City Clerk Omichele Nattiel-Williams submitted her resignation in April. 

The decision at Thursday’s regular meeting will mean a potential of two national searches later this year to fill the clerk position as well as the city auditor position.  

Former City Auditor Ginger Bigbie left the city in January. The city staff said the process to open a nationwide search hit a problem with the contract. The ongoing contract with a search firm had lapsed, but a new contract should be in place within a month to move the search forward.  

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Nattiel-Williams, who took the position in 2018, will stay with the city until June 30, with the option to extend for another 90 days if needed. She offered and then withdrew her resignation in the fall of 2021

City of Gainesville Commissioner Reina Saco
City of Gainesville City of Gainesville Commissioner Reina Saco

“Unknown to me at the time, there were several other departures taking place that weighed heavily on my decision to rescind my resignation and remain to provide stability within the city’s leadership team,” Nattiel-Williams said in her resignation letter.  

The city commission had three options: to appoint an interim (commissioners mentioned Deputy Clerk Zanorfa Lynch as an option), conduct an internal search for an interim or conduct a national search.  

Commissioner Reina Saco said the City Commission has traditionally appointed an interim from existing staff. That happened previously with Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Tony Cunningham and with the appointment of interim city auditor Brecka Anderson

However, the commission has also executed searches, finding City Manager Cynthia Curry through an external search and City Attorney Daniel Nee and Director of Equity and Inclusion Zeriah Folston through internal searches. 

Saco said she preferred to appoint an interim before continuing with a national search later. This option, she said, would save time from an internal search. Chestnut and Commissioner Ed Book also voiced support for this option. 

The commission enters a recess for July, and Mayor Harvey Ward said June 22 will be the final commission meeting before the break. He said the commission should look to have an interim by then.  

Commissioner Casey Willits moved that the city conduct an internal search for the interim city clerk position before having the nationwide search later.  

Cynthia Curry
Courtesy city of Gainesville Cynthia Curry

The internal application period typically lasts 30 days, and Saco asked if Willits would add a condition that limits the period to 15 days.  

She said city employees already know the conversation is happening and whether or not they want to apply. The 15 days will ensure the commission can appoint an interim by June 22. Willits agreed. 

The commission voted 4-2 on the motion with commissioners Cynthia Chestnut and Desmon Duncan-Walker in dissent.  

The commission finalized contracts with three interim charter officers in February, moving them into permanent positions. At that meeting, the commission asked the mayor to continue working on the contract for Folston, rejecting the salary amount and directing Ward to look at similar positions nationwide.  

Ward said in an interview Friday that Folston’s contract should finish in the next couple of days and hopefully make it onto a May agenda. He said the position is unique across the county. While many cities have equity departments, most report to the city manager or human resources and not the commission itself as a charter officer.  

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that Saco advocated for an interim clerk.

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How about starting with salary set at similar to other Cities our size ? Not Houston , Portland or Seattle? Then downsize the balance of your over paid staff to the norm. Of course that’s after a well needed overhead hair cut. Good Luck, your gonna need it. FYI Ocala pays their city $225,000. That the Unwoke rate that is fiscally responsible , unlike your City Manager.

Jeff Gehmann

Gainey only hired because the number 2 person in HR was also named Gainey of course. Had no degree despite it being a requirement. The previous long term Clerk made much less than other charter offices due to the limited skills required. The commission gave Gainey a period of time to get a degree, never heard if she did. Just promote someone internally without giving a huge raise. There is no significant expertise required. Give other charters a 25% salary reduction as they all got ridiculous raises and now the city is facing a financial crisis without GRU to loot.

Gabe Hillel Kaimowitz

Once again, Harvey L. Ward, as mayor, former City Commissioner, has dumbed down the form of government for Gainesville which was first approved in 1972, and reaffirmed in 1995. The refusal to recognize the intent and meaning of a city controlled by its manager, city attorney, and director of Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU)) has resulted in the current chaos, Anyone familiar with reporting of City Hall news since the late Craig Lowe was mayor would answer that Gainesville is a strong mayor form of government akin to Orlando’, and they would be right. What has happened is that unqualified people put in office to avoid real publicized national searches are so grateful for their positions that they defer to elected officers. Currently the City is looking for a qualified secretary to replace the City Clerk, who herself was unqualified to be chosen as a charter officer. She never bothered to even get the minimum credentials required for the position. This chaos has brought about the State Intrusion in the affairs of GRU and the City. The GRU director–NOT the mayor–should have been the one engaging with the state about the operation of the utility. But that could not be done because Tony Cunningham, an unimaginative, long-time yes man, was placed to lead the department, after Ward led the firing of the qualified Ed Bielarski. There is only one reasonable way out of this local Southern Democrat segregationist nightmare–Call for a referendum to consolidate County/City governments as was done in Jacksonville years ago, and which would have succeeded in Gainesville when that choice was offered but for the fact that no one bothered to explain the what and why of it, because city officials at the time opposed such modern thinking. Our government since Lowe has been operated as a vestige of the Lost Cause.