SEMINOLE — Chaotic working conditions spurred Ginger Stilton to abruptly hand in her resignation as city clerk after a council workshop Monday.
"I chose to walk away from a situation that I really feel is going to take some time to sort out," Stilton said Thursday. "The reason why I'm leaving is because there are a lot of problems and a lot of contradictions."
Stilton, 49, handwrote her one-line resignation while Seminole council members debated her position during the workshop. At issue was whether they wanted the clerk's job to remain a charter position. The council decided they want the job to be a noncharter job with the city manager as the hiring agent and boss. The voters will have a chance to weigh in on the issue during the March elections when that proposed charter change comes before them.
But the issues with Stilton go deeper than a change in who would oversee her position. Since taking the job in February, she has come under fire from council members and City Manager Frank Edmunds for perceived performance failures. Stilton has denied those charges, saying some are untrue and that the working environment in Seminole City Hall is to blame for others.
"I really feel like I've done the best job I could under the circumstances," Stilton said. "I feel some real changes need to happen around there. It's to my best interest not to be in that environment. … I'm a professional. I expect to be treated professionally and with respect."
Stilton began working for Seminole in 2004. Before becoming clerk, she was Edmunds' administrative assistant. She said that when she took that position, it did not require a degree. The job requirements were later changed to require a degree. Rather than grandfather her in, Stilton said she was given the choice of getting a degree or taking another job within the city.
Stilton got an associate's degree instead of taking another job. At the same time, she worked to get her clerk's certification. When the clerk's job came open in February, she took over and, about six months ago, the council gave her the job. But before giving her the job, the council cut the pay. Leslie DeMuth, her predecessor, was earning $68,902 a year after about four years. Stilton was paid $42,261 a year as clerk.
Evidence of behind-the-scenes tensions broke out during a council meeting late last month when Stilton said council member Tom Barnhorn had accused her of violating the state's Sunshine Law when she gave copies of one of his e-mails to other council members.
In a Monday e-mail to Edmunds, Barnhorn denied accusing Stilton of violating the law and demanded that she apologize publicly. Barnhorn also asked that Edmunds handle all the council members' correspondence rather than having Stilton handle it.
Stilton never apologized. She resigned that evening.