Jenny Grant has been appointed Blackshear’s new city clerk, but her appointment nearly didn’t happen.
Blackshear council members initially voted the appointment down 3-2 last Tuesday night, then reversed course and unanimously approved her appointment after convening in a closed session to discuss the matter.
Mayor Kevin Grissom called for the closed session following heavy pressure from citizens who attended the meeting. Locals called for the matter to be worked out immediately. (See related story).
Council members Timmy Sapp, Shawn Godwin and Linda Gail Dennison initially voted against Grant’s appointment. Councilmen Corey Lesseig and Keith Brooks voted in favor. Councilman Charles Broady was absent from the meeting.
After meeting in closed session for approximately 20 minutes while more than 50 people waited in the lobby of city hall, the council reconvened and voted to approve a resolution appointing Grant as city clerk at a starting salary of $20/hour with a raise to $21.75/hour upon completion of certification requirements for municipal clerks in the state of Georgia.
City Attorney Adam Ferrell, who serves as parliamentarian for the council, told The Times there was no need for the council to reverse their earlier vote against Grant’s appointment. Their decision to approve a resolution at the end of the meeting is sufficient, he says.
Grant was one of two top candidates named for the position earlier this month. The other top candidate, Renè Bolden, withdrew her application Saturday, February 8.
Grant was hired by the city last spring and has been fulfilling the job duties of city clerk since former clerk Suzanne Manning resigned last September. She sat quietly, recording meeting minutes while council voted her appointment down last Tuesday.
City employees and Blackshear residents rose to Grant’s defense, pressing the council to explain their actions, and arguing if Grant was qualified to be named a top candidate, she was also qualified to receive the job.
“Isn’t it by law that the job goes to the best candidate?” asked Will Gaither, Blackshear resident. “In my book only one candidate is left — that’s the one you picked, you called, you interviewed.”
Sheila Turner, public works secretary, commended Grant for stepping into the job last year.
“Y’all may not know what she does because y’all are not hands on everyday. I do, and she has done a great job,” Turner said. “Y’all denying her? I don’t know what y’all are thinking.”
To say the situation was awkward for Grant is putting it lightly.
“I am honored to now hold the position of City Clerk of Blackshear. It was an unnecessarily stressful journey to gain a title for a job I was already doing, but I’m thankful that part is behind us,” Grant told The Times. “I feel my work ethic and performance will continue to speak for itself and earn the confidence and respect of everyone.”
Grant hopes the city can now move forward.
Maybe that will happen. At least one council member is ready to move on to the next order of business, too.
“I do not believe there is any sense in beating a dead horse. In the end, Mrs. Grant received my vote. I think she will do a good job. I wish her nothing but the best,” Godwin told The Times.