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Three area city clerks seek higher-paying Gulfport post

(ran Beach edition)

The city clerks of Madeira, Redington and St. Pete beaches are in a race with 22 other people to become the next caretaker of Gulfport's public records and win a bigger salary.

The candidate chosen by the Gulfport City Council this spring will replace City Clerk Lesley DeMuth, who is retiring after 14 years on the job. As clerk, she is the official custodian of public records and also documents public meetings.

DeMuth makes about $45,000 a year, which is $7,000 to $14,000 more than her counterparts in smaller, nearby locales. Neighboring clerks want the job and the pay.

Denise Schlegel, who has been city clerk in Madeira Beach for a decade, said she would like the experience of working for a bigger city. She is a certified municipal clerk.

"I'm the old person around here," Schlegel said. "It would be nice to be the new person for a change and have a new experience."

Victoria McDonald, the town clerk of Redington Beach for nearly two years, said the Gulfport job would be more focused on clerking than her current job, which includes being the town's chief administrative official.

Since moving to Florida from New Jersey, McDonald has survived some of the worst times in Redington Beach's history, including the resignation of most of the commission and key staff last year.

McDonald almost became St. Pete Beach city clerk last fall, but she suddenly withdrew her name when two commissioners hesitated to confirm her. She reapplied for the St. Pete Beach job this spring but withdrew her name again a month ago, writing that her choice flowed from "a deep sense of obligation" to Redington Beach.

"I change my mind weekly," McDonald said about staying in Redington Beach. "We have good weeks and bad weeks."

Pamala Prell, who has been acting city clerk in St. Pete Beach for more than a year, wrote to Gulfport that she wants to use the skills she has learned. A deputy clerk for St. Pete Beach for 10 years, Prell is also a candidate to become city clerk there.

Two other deputy clerks are also vying for the Gulfport job:

Louise Spence has been Gulfport's deputy city clerk for four years. The certified municipal clerk also has worked as an assistant clerk in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach.

Mary Braisted, who has been deputy clerk in South Pasadena for seven years, also wants the job. She has advanced certification as a city clerk.

Only a handful of the remaining 20 candidates have experience in managing public records, recording city meetings and following Florida's open government laws:

Carol Reynolds, the town clerk for LaCrosse in north-central Florida for 13 years, not only manages records but also prepares the town budget. She notes she wants to leave because of her city's financial problems.

Suzanne Kruse, the city clerk of Boynton Beach on the southeast coast since 1990, has advanced certification as a municipal clerk and additional education in records management.

Although unfamiliar with Florida procedures, Anita Manore, the township clerk of Long Hill, N.J., since 1987, is a registered municipal clerk in her state and has been acting administrator of her city for a year.

Another notable name in the mix is Linda Adkins, an administrative assistant for the Belleair Beach Police Department, who once was a city commissioner in Safety Harbor.

In 1991, a political rival sued Adkins after she refused to provide all city-related correspondence she had received at home. Adkins lost and was forced to turn over the public records.

Other candidates include a production supervisor at a local publishing company, a second-year law student on a leave of absence, an office manager for the American Cancer Society, a former grocery store cashier and a personnel officer who is retiring from the Army after 20 years of active service.

The list also includes a Realtor, an editor at a legal publishing firm who holds a doctorate in political science, and a sales representative for a New York recycling company.

City Manager Bob Lee said the City Council will discuss how to pick a new clerk from the applicants at its next workshop at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 2401 53rd St. S. Ideally, the position would be filled when DeMuth retires June 10, Lee said.

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