GULFPORT — Seminole City Clerk Lesley DeMuth is winning high praise as she is considered for the same job in Gulfport.
She and two other candidates will be interviewed Jan. 5 privately by individual council members and then in public by the full City Council at 2 p.m. in City Hall.
Other applicants to be interviewed are Betsy Jordan Driggers, the city clerk in Palatka, and Dana Williams, a former city clerk in Destin.
The council reviewed more than 50 applications Thursday and decided to interview the three certified municipal clerks.
"We have an extremely good candidate right here in our back yard," said council member Bob Worthington. "Lesley (DeMuth) has Gulfport experience and knowledge. She is extremely well-qualified."
DeMuth, 47, served as Gulfport's city clerk from 1984 to 1998, when she retired to spend time with her family. She was Redington Beach city clerk from 1979 to 1984.
DeMuth became Seminole's city clerk in 2005 and earns a $68,980 salary. She earned $48,000 when she left Gulfport in 1998.
Mayor Michael Yakes, who said he is "ready to roll" in interviewing and selecting a new city clerk, cautioned the commission that picking a candidate is only the first step.
"This is a serious deal. I believe we need to give it due diligence and time," Yakes said, stressing that the city and the selected candidate must agree on contract terms.
The city's previous city clerk, Donna Spano, did not have a contract with the city. As a result, the city was forced to negotiate a $25,000 separation agreement with her last month. Her resignation came after accusations of incompetence and excessive absences, particularly after she missed a month of work due to illness. She made $52,539 a year.