Gretna Mayor Sally McGuire wants to meet with the two challengers who defeated her in Tuesday's primary election to determine how the city should proceed with filling the vacancy left after McGuire fired City Administrator Colleen Lawry.
City Attorney John Green said officials hope to meet by early June with former Councilman Jim Timmerman and Gretna businessman Kip Edmonds to get their feedback on how to proceed.
“First, we need to let the dust settle,” Green said.
Tuesday's primary came less than three weeks after State Auditor Mike Foley raised questions about a lack of oversight of city funds and questionable city expenses involving Lawry, who was subsequently fired.
Both Timmerman and Edmonds will advance to the November general election. McGuire finished last in the four-way race.
“Sally expressed disappointment, but she was not surprised in the outcome,” Green said Wednesday. “At this point, Sally is planning to fulfill her duties as mayor until her term ends.”
McGuire, 63, was seeking her second four-year term after running unopposed in 2008. She served on the Gretna City Council from 1996 until 2008.
The new mayor will take office in December, Green said.
For the foreseeable future, McGuire will continue to serve as both mayor and acting city administrator. She is paid $7,200 as mayor and cannot receive additional compensation to serve as administrator, Green said.
The city administrator typically serves at the mayor's discretion, subject to terms of a contract if one is adopted, Green said.
He said the city basically has three options for filling Lawry's job.
“It is our intent to bring in the two candidates for the mayor to brief them on whether we hire someone on an interim basis, let Sally continue in that role or solicit applications,” Green said. “The problem with a permanent appointment is that these contracts usually follow the term of the mayor, so we want these two candidates to have significant participation in what we are going to do.”
Edmonds said he is undecided whether he would want to meet with McGuire and Timmerman to discuss the city administrator's position.
“She (McGuire) can make that decision. I think it would be premature for myself or Jim to become involved at this point,” he said.
Green predicted that if the city administrator job remains intact, it's doubtful that Lawry's replacement will receive the same salary.
The contract McGuire negotiated with Lawry in December included a $90,184 salary, unrestricted use of a city-owned Chrysler Sebring, free health insurance and compensatory time off whenever Lawry worked more than eight hours a day.
“I doubt the pay on the job will be what it was before,” Green said.
Timmerman said he is willing to meet with McGuire and Edmonds.
He said the city of about 5,000 might be better off with a strong city clerk and deputy city clerk instead of a full-time city administrator. He said the personnel costs and job duties for Lawry's position need to be re-evaluated.
“I am on the fence on the issue. I think that position needs to be re-examined. Colleen was traveling a lot, and we need someone to be there at City Hall to take care of the needs and responsibilities and keep tabs on the city,'' Timmerman said.
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