2015-08-07 / Front Page

City looking to fill vacancy after clerk resigns

By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND — After 39 years, South Portland City Clerk Susan Mooney is calling it a career.

Mooney tendered her resignation to Mayor Linda Cohen on July 27. Mooney, who started with the city in 1976, succeeded Cohen as clerk in August 2001, when Cohen moved across the Fore River to become city clerk in Portland. Following her retirement, Cohen won election to the city council, rising to the office of mayor last year.

The city clerk position is not the only one city officals are looking to fill; the search for a new assistant city manager continues.

Asked why she’s stepping down, Mooney said in a July 31 email that she has no immediate plans.

“Not a better opportunity, just been here for a loonnnnnggggg time and would like to take some time off before I decide what I want to do for the next 10 or 15 years,” she wrote. “I don’t want to be stuck in an office behind a desk for those last few years.”

“Susan has filled a lot of positions in South Portland during her time with the city and certainly has a lot of talent, so I know whatever she decides to do, she’s going to land on her feet and do it very well,” Cohen said at the Aug. 3 city council meeting.

City councilors met in executive session following the meeting to decide how to replace Mooney. Ordinarily, a closed-door meeting would not be permissible under Maine law for discussions of process, but Gailey said in an Aug. 4 email that “employees were talked about,” suggesting that, as was the case with Mooney, the next city clerk may come from within the ranks of city hall.

Along with the city manager and the assessor, the city clerk is one of three positions hired by the city council in South Portland, all other jobs falling under the purview of the manager.

Gailey did not say what decision, if any, was reached, and did not give a timeframe for hiring a new city clerk. Mooney has offered to stay on the job until her successor is in place.

Meanwhile, Gailey wrote that work on hiring a new assistant city manager is still ongoing. When Jon Jennings resigned effective July 8 to take the top administrative job in Portland, Gailey said he hoped to have a new No. 2 hired by “mid-August.”

Gailey wrote Tuesday that he has received 48 applications “from all over.”

“Interviews are underway,” he wrote, intimating that the hiring of a new assistant manager may not be in the immediate offing.

“Due to the middle of the summer the interview schedule has been spread out to meet vacation demands and availability.”

Gailey has said the job description as it existed under Jennings will be recrafted to reduce the focus on economic development. The role will instead be reimagined, based in part on how effective Jennings was at other aspects of the job.

“I revamped it a little bit, with one of the biggest changes being to make the job more of a liaison between residential and business groups and city hall, to make it a sort of ombudsman, kind of like,” Gailey said last month. “The new assistant manager will be the contact for citizen and business complaints, as well as an outreach point person for press releases and media contacts.”

The city clerk’s duties – although by her own admission much more demanding than they were in Cohen’s day – are not expected to change.

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