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Sutton: ‘No comment’ on seeking city manager slot

Sutton

ELKINS –Elkins City Clerk Jessica Sutton declined to comment Friday on whether she would seek the position of city manager if voters approve a city charter change in Tuesday’s election that would allow for the creation of a city manager post.

Elkins businessman Mark Doak has been running advertisements in The Inter-Mountain in recent weeks in support of the proposed charter change, and his letter to the editor saying Elkins needs a city manager ran in the Feb. 20 edition of The Inter-Mountain.

During an Elkins City Council meeting in September, Doak suggested that Sutton would be the best choice to fill the city manager position.

The Inter-Mountain asked Sutton Friday about her response to Doak’s letter and ads, and his statement that she would be the best choice for the job if the city manager position is created.

“I really appreciate Mark’s opinion,” Sutton responded during a phone conversation with The Inter-Mountain. “I take it as a compliment. I appreciate his confidence in me. If the city adopts the city manager form of government, that will be a long process. There will be deliberation over whomever applies.”

She insisted that the idea of her becoming the city manager has not been discussed among city officials.

“There’s certainly been no consideration, absolutely no consideration of that at City Hall, or discussion,” Sutton said. “Mark’s comment, as I said, it’s flattering, but that is not something that’s been discussed. If it got to the point where we adopted that form of government, that would be a decision of the council, as to how they wanted to conduct the search for that particular individual, and who they wanted to hire at that point.”

The Inter-Mountain asked whether, provided voters approve the city manager charter change, Sutton would seek the position.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” Sutton said. “That is a very personal question.”

She noted that council would have to make several decisions about a city manager position before they could even advertise the job.

“There’s no job description at this point, there’s really been no reason to do that until we know for sure that that was even going to happen,” Sutton said. “There are authorities that would be assigned to that person within the charter, that were spelled out in that charter draft.

“As far as having a job description and what qualifiers the council would be looking for, or salary, none of that’s been determined. It would be a long process. They would have to determine all that first before (the position) was advertised.”

Sutton has served as Elkins city clerk since her appointment in May 2016. During that time her salary has gradually been increased from $42,000 per year to $54,000 per year, including a $6,000 raise in December.

Elkins City Council voted in November to place on the March 2 municipal ballot several proposals stricken from the city charter changes that were approved at that meeting.

Two controversial proposed changes — the creation of a city manager position, and increasing the mayor’s term of office from two to four years — were among the items taken out of the updated charter because qualified objections to them had been raised by several residents, including three current council members.

The city manager question was raised during a virtual candidates forum in January, with several mayoral and city council candidates opposing the proposed change, and several voicing support for it.

One of the reasons council members and candidates have given for opposing the creation of a city manager position is the salary the new post would require, which has been estimated as being from $80,000 to $100,000 or more.

Those in support of creating the position say Elkins needs a manager to oversee the operations of the city, while still following the direction of Elkins City Council.

Polls will be open on Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the following polling locations:

First Ward — Church of God Family Worship Center at1402 Taylor Ave.

Second Ward — Mountain State Forest Festival Building, 101 Lough St.

Third Ward — Day’s Inn at 1200 Harrison Ave.

Fourth Ward — Randolph County Courthouse Annex at 4 Randolph Ave.

Fifth Ward — Elkins City Hall at 401 Davis Ave.

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