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Officials hope clerk search has ended

Published Sep. 2, 2005

Maybe the third time's the charm.

After two candidates withdrew their applications after being offered the job of city clerk, Seminole officials are hoping they will have better luck with their latest pick.

Beverly Brown, the city clerk in Shelton, Conn., since 1973, has accepted an offer, said City Manager Frank Edmunds, who added that background checks and drug tests must be completed before it's official.

"Assuming that all goes well, we anticipate her arrival here on April 15," Edmunds told the City Council last week.

Deputy City Clerk Karen Barr breathed a sigh of relief when Edmunds made the announcement last week. Along with her regular duties as administrative assistant for the city's General Services Department, Barr has been filling in as city clerk since the position became vacant in January. Council members praised Barr last week for her diligence, especially for her work on the recent city election.

If Barr had wanted the job, the search for a city clerk may have ended weeks ago. Instead, it has become an arduous task in which city leaders are trying to put an end to the turnovers that have plagued the position. Four people have held the job in the past decade, three in the last four years.

Sandy Tulecki was hired in 1998 to replace Dorothy Cramer, who retired after working for the city for seven years. Tulecki quit in 1998 after being charged with drunken driving.

Lynne Keane then took over the job, but she resigned last year to move to Bend, Ore. Carolyn Chandler was hired last summer to replace Keane, but she said the job wasn't a good match for her and in January transferred to an administrative position in the fire department.

The city clerk is a charter official who ultimately reports to the City Council, a board of seven members, including the mayor. But the clerk also reports to the city manager. The clerk's primary duties are maintaining all city records and coordinating city elections.

Last month Edmunds offered the job to Amy Walsh, an executive assistant for the 6th Judicial Circuit, which covers Pinellas and Pasco counties. It turned out she was planning to buy a house in Clearwater and told Edmunds to consider someone else for the job.

Council members told Edmunds to get a formal rejection from Walsh before offering the job to Randall Long, a 39-year-old city clerk in Kansas City, Mo. But Long never got an invitation. Council members were concerned about relocation costs and a $20,000 pay cut for Long if he took the job. They worried about losing him to a higher-paying job once he moved to Florida.

So three weeks ago they offered the position to Jo Ann Hastings, a resident of Largo and a former city clerk for Green River, Wyo. She accepted. However, about a week later she rejected the offer, citing personal reasons.

That left council members with Brown, who like Long, is willing to take a huge pay cut. She earns $58,000 a year in Shelton, a city of 38,700 residents. Seminole would pay her $40,000.

"Frank (Edmunds) sold me on Seminole," Brown, 57, said Friday. "He sold me on the progress it has made. I knew if I came down there I would be taking a cut in pay, but the responsibilities will be less."

Mayor Dottie Reeder said the council feels Brown would stay with the city and wouldn't be tempted to look elsewhere for a more lucrative job. "The very reason she wants to be down here is her family is here, and, of course, we have no doubt she can do the job," Reeder said Friday.

In other news, the City Council unanimously voted last week to appoint council member Pete Bengston as vice mayor of Seminole. Bengston will perform the duties of mayor when Reeder is absent from council meetings. With Reeder absent last week, he immediately was called to duty and presided over the meeting.

Bengston, who recently was recognized by the National League of Cities for completing a leadership and training program, will serve a one-year term.

And new red, white and blue banners soon will hang at three city buildings and three major intersections in Seminole. The 10 banners, each costing $100, will be installed next week, said Mitch Bobowski, Seminole's general services director.