Special Fayetteville City Council recap: Nov. 14, 2019

File photo

On the agenda…

  • Nominating a new City Clerk Treasurer

A meeting of the Fayetteville City Council began at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 inside room 326 of City Hall, located at 113 W. Mountain St. in Fayetteville.

Listed below are the items up for approval and links to PDF documents with detailed information on each item of business.

Roll Call

Present: Sonia Guierrez, Sarah Marsh, Mark Kinion, Matthew Petty, Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Sloan Scroggin, Sarah Bunch, Teresa Turk, Kyle Smith
Absent: None

» View current attendance records

New Business

1. City Clerk Treasurer

Selection of a new City Clerk Treasurer to serve an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2020.

Former City Clerk Treasurer Sondra Smith died Monday, Oct. 14 at the age of 65.

Deputy City Clerk Lisa Branson has served in Smith’s place for the past month, but state law requires the City Council to appoint a permanent replacement to complete Smith’s term, which ends Dec. 31, 2020. The next general election for the position is on Nov. 3, 2020.

The four finalists are William Chesser, Kirsten Elliott, Kara Paxton and Rob Qualls.

Mayor Jordan went over the rules for the interview process. He said the finalists will draw a number to determine the order of their interview. When one person is interviewing, the other candidates must leave the room. Although the full meeting will be recorded, the individual interviews will not be broadcast live in order to keep anyone from having any unfair advantages. No public comment will be allowed during the selection process. Audience members may not use cell phones or other electronic devices during the interviews.

The candidates drew numbers and the interviews will be conducted in this order: 1. William Chesser 2. Rob Qualls 3. Kirsten Elliott 4. Kara Paxton

William Chesser (see application)
Chesser said he considers himself a public servant at heart. He said he’d heard Sondra Smith might not run for re-election in 2020 and began considering a run for the position. After her death, he decided he would apply for the open position.

He said if selected he would make it a priority to have the City Code be translated in different languages for residents who don’t speak English. He said he’d also like to see some updates to the city’s IT infrastructure to make things more readily available on a mobile phones.

Rob Qualls (see application)
Qualls said he’s been an advocate for transparency active in city government for a while, and would make access to information a big top priority. He said he’d be a champion for technology and utilize his background in IT to improve access. One suggestion he made was that the City Clerk’s office implement the JustFOIA software to help handle FOIA requests if chosen.

He also said he’d like to explore ways to improve the process of announcing open positions on the city’s boards, committees and commissions.

Kirsten Elliott (see application)
Elliott said she currently works for the Center for Election Science, which focuses on voter reform, and she’d like to expand upon her background in research and communication by bringing her experiences and expertise to the municipal government level.

She said election fairness would be a top priority if chosen, but she also puts a strong emphasis on quick response times, attention to detail, and meticulous record-keeping.

Kara Paxton (see application)
Paxton said she’s been working toward a position like this for 20 years, and recently resigned from her position at the Fayetteville Housing Authority to focus on her campaign to run for the Fayetteville City Clerk position in 2020.

She said she has a longtime love for managing data, and would leverage her many years of experience in customer service and dealing with the public if she’s chosen.

Petty said he liked that Qualls was prepared to talk about improvements he might make to the City Clerk’s office while also acknowledging how successful the current office has been. Smith agreed.

Kinion said any of the finalists could step into the role and do a great job, but he particularly liked that Paxton has experience and familiarity with the Freedom of Information Act, and said he thinks her demeanor and her background in customer service would serve her well in the City Clerk’s Office. Marsh and Gutierrez agreed.

Bunch said she was having trouble deciding between Chesser and Paxton.

Scroggin and Turk said they liked both Paxton and Qualls.

During the vote, six Council Members voted for Paxton and two voted for Qualls.

Here’s how everyone voted:

Sonia Gutierrez voted for Paxton
Sarah Marsh voted for Paxton
Mark Kinion voted for Paxton
Matthew Petty voted for Qualls
Sloan Scroggin voted for Paxton
Sarah Bunch voted for Paxton
Teresa Turk voted for Paxton
Kyle Smith voted for Qualls

Paxton’s first day on the job is Dec. 2.


This meeting was adjourned at 6:51 p.m.