Humboldt city board members decided not to hire a new library assistant Monday night despite recommendations from the library board and library director Diane Wright.
Wright and the library board asked the city board to approve their choice, Brittney Keller, as the new assistant director, replacing Felita Martin, who retired earlier this year.
Board members questioned why a current library employee who applied for the job wasn’t offered the job. The mayor apparently had been given three applications months ago and told those three individuals were the finalists. A library employee, Edna Sherron, was among those. She has been with the library four years.
City board member Donna Johnson noted the three applications. One applicant was offered the job and turned it down and another was determined not to be a good fit for the position. The third, Sherron, wasn’t offered the job.
Library board chairman Linda Hawks told the city board that the library board was unanimous in their choice of Brittney Keller.
Wright explained the library board had many more applications than the three given to the mayor and had interviewed several for the job.
Wright said she had never been asked to bring applications to the mayor’s office. But Mayor Marvin Sikes said a library board member had brought the three applications to him, but did not name the member.
It was also noted that not all applications were taken through the mayor’s office as requested in the city’s advertisement of the position.
“I think the (city) board should take our recommendation and act on it. You don’t know what we do day to day…. Edna was not a top pick,” Wright said.
“We have a wonderful staff,” said Wright. “But not all are qualified to take on an administrative position…I want the library to succeed and I want the best staff.”
Both Alderman Johnson and library director Wright said the issue was not about race, but about qualifications.
“The library board is here to make recommendations. That’s all,” said Alderman Leon McNeal.
Mayor Sikes said he hated that they issue “came to this point,” before the vote was taken.
Alderman Don Graves voted yes to approve the library board’s recommendation of Keller. Voting against the recommendation were Johnson, McNeal and James Shivers. Alderman Bob Pruett was absent.
“You all have set us back,” Wright told the city board. She had more to say but Mayor Sikes noted the discussion was over.
Wright submitted a letter to the Chronicle Tuesday morning. The letter is from Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. It indicates the library director may be appolnted by the board and the director (or administrator) has the authority to hire and direct the staff.
In other action, the city board re-appointed Ellen Early, Carolyn Carter, Tony Carter and Linda Hawks to the Humboldt Library Board. John Blankenship was appointed to the library board to replace Pat Hanna.
Also Monday night, Barbara Rogier was hired as a dispatcher for the Humboldt Police Department.