In a 5-2 vote Tuesday, members of the Palestine City Council approved hiring Interim City Manager Leslie Cloer as full-time city manager. No other candidates were considered.
District 2 Councilman Mitchell Jordan, and District 3 Council member Vickey Chivers voted against hiring Cloer, arguing the council should have searched for, and interviewed, other candidates before making a decision.
“I'm not saying she's not qualified, but there's a process,” Jordan told the Herald-Press Tuesday. “I was speaking with Council member Chivers, and said, 'When you're looking for the sharpest knife, you have to look through the whole drawer.' She [Cloer] is sharp, but we didn't even look.”
Typically, city councils form committees, post the city manager job opening with the Texas Municipal League, or even hire consulting firms to bring in a pool of candidates from which to choose.
Instead, Palestine City Council members waived the process, hiring Cloer based on her performance as interim city manager since May.
Cloer, who became interim city manager when Michael Hornes resigned in May, will earn $145,000 a year – $20,000 more than Hornes did in his 18 months as the city's top employee. Before becoming interim city manager, Cloer served as the city's human resource director.
“I don't know what Michael [Hornes] made,” District 1 Council member Larissa Loveless told the Herald-Press. “We just compared the job and salary to other cities.”
District 5 Council member Dana Goolsby, who made the motion to hire Cloer, said she is confident in her abilities.
“This is the first time I've had this much faith in anyone,” Goolsby told the council. “I look forward to getting behind her and pushing the city towards our goal.”
District 1 Councilman Joe Baxter agreed.
“She [Cloer] has done a wonderful job,” he said. “I have the utmost confidence in her abilities. I believe we are 100 percent on the right track.”
Cloer takes over the reigns during budget time, as the city battles a crumbling infrastructure, a water treatment facility out of state compliance, and a senior city staff that has suffered three resignations or retirements in the last month: two public works directors, and the executive director of the Palestine Economic Development Corporation.
Cloer said she is honored by the council's faith in her.
“I look forward to working with the council and my city employees as we finalize our annual budget process and plan for the future of Palestine,” Cloer told the Herald-Press. “I encourage all of our residents to take an active role in their city government.”