By NATHAN GREGORY
After interviewing 10 candidates Tuesday for the position of director of finance/city clerk, the Starkville Board of Aldermen has opted to take more time before making its hire. Mayor Parker Wiseman said a decision could be made as early as next week’s board of aldermen meeting July 17.
The board almost considered deciding on a hire right after the interviews. It deadlocked in a 3-3-1 tie over Alderman Roy A. Perkins’ motion to recess until next Tuesday. Aldermen Eric Parker and Henry Vaughn sided with Perkins in the motion, with Aldermen Ben Carver, Sandra Sistrunk and Jeremiah Dumas dissenting. Richard Corey abstained, forcing Wiseman to break a tie in favor of going into recess until next week.
The candidates who interviewed Taylor Adams, Emma Gandy, Lesa Hardin, Pamela Harlan-McSwain, John Jackovic, Pansy McCaskill-Holman, Robert Pilgrim, Jannie Thompson, Jonita Thompson and Brenda Walters.
Sistrunk said she was impressed with the pool of applicants.
“Each one brought something different to the interview process,” Sistrunk said. “I’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to make a hire from this group and that we’ll be positioned to move forward with the city’s business.”
Adams is a purchasing manager in the Mississippi State University Office of Procurement and Contracts. He was named the state’s purchasing manager of the year by Mississippi Association of Governmental Purchasing and Property Agents.
Gandy has served as a deputy city clerk with the city of Starkville since 1999. She began working for the city in 1998 in accounts receivable for the Starkville Electric Department before transitioning to the city clerk’s office six months later.
Hardin currently serves as city clerk in Eupora. She also has previous work experience with Watkins, Ward and Stafford, a certified public accounting firm.
Harlan-McSwain is currently employed at Mississippi Department of Rehabilitative Services, where she works with those who have orthopedic and neurological impairments. She has formerly worked with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Memphis, Tenn.
Jackovic is currently the administrator at West Point Community Living Center. He said he has lived in Starkville for two years and has been employed in the long-term care sector for 16 years.
McCaskill-Holman is a dress department manager at JCPenney and said she has experience as an intern at a law firm.
Pilgrim, a Starkville native, is currently employed at as a tax manager for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fortegra Financial, a small-policy life insurance company.
Jonita Thompson is a Starkville resident who works as head teller at BancorpSouth. She started her career in banking at a branch of what is now Cadence Bank.
Jannie Thompson is currently listed as unemployed, but said she has supervising, banking and budget-making experience.
Walters is currently working as a controller at L. Kianoff & Associates, Inc. in Birmingham, Ala. She said she has also worked with the Fayette County (Ala.) Administration with a focus on governmental accounting.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said while he was pleased with each interview, there were a couple of candidates who stood out from the pack.
“I thought we had some good candidates. I think there’s a clear choice. We’ve got to think about what that choice is,” Dumas said. “I think were a couple of them that really stood out. Either one of them will do a fantastic job of meeting the emerging issues of the city. I’m looking forward to getting someone in place as soon as possible so we can all get to work.”
The eventual appointee will place Markeeta Outlaw, who retired June 1.
The pay scale for the position will be a salary grade 18, which has a range from $63,684 to $84,755. This is three steps up from the previous salary grade of 15. The board approved of the upgrade before advertising for Outlaw’s successor in order to have the potential for a more competitive and qualified candidate pool.
The board opted to change the description of the title from city clerk to director of finance/city clerk in April.
In other business, the board rescinded a motion it approved last week to have City Attorney Chris Latimer conduct a title search for the purpose of mowing the piped and covered area along the Carver Drive Ditch.