Hillsdale City Council members were caught off guard by an unplanned appointment for the vacant city clerk position pro­posed by Mayor Scott Ses­sions at the council’s Monday meeting.

In last week’s meeting the council decided to review the six resumes sub­mitted for the position, but at the Monday meeting Ses­sions said the can­di­dates were under­qual­ified and pro­posed to appoint the current interim City Clerk and Director of Recre­ation, Michelle Loren, instead.

The council voted against Ses­sions’ city clerk appointment 5 – 2.

“At the last city council meeting I requested the names of your top two appli­cants for the city clerk’s position,” Ses­sions said. “However, after spending a con­sid­erable amount of time reviewing the resumes, I believe none of the can­di­dates possess the nec­essary municipal skills and expe­rience to perform the position. At the Nov. 9 special meeting I will be appointing Michelle Loren, with  council approval, as full-time city clerk.”

Coun­cilman Patrick Flannery was con­cerned that the council’s opinion wasn’t con­sulted regarding the vacant position and that the mayor’s decision derailed the original agenda.

“This has been a com­plete change of how the position was described to us and what we agreed upon,” Flannery said. “I’m also dis­ap­pointed, Mr. Mayor, that you’re appar­ently not going to listen to the council’s input on who we think should be clerk.”

Coun­cilman Bruce Sharp said the scope of the position changed with Ses­sions’ appointment and that adver­tising it as a full-time position would garner more fair results.

“I believe if we would’ve adver­tised this out as a full-time position we would have gotten more appli­cants than we had,” Sharp said. “We need to make sure we do this fairly and give everybody a chance. We want to make sure we do this right, and not just appoint somebody.”

The council voted to repost the adver­tisement as a full-time position and con­tinue taking resumes for another 30 days. Coun­cil­woman Mary Beth Bail and Sally Kinney both voted to appoint Loren as city clerk.

Coun­cil­woman Kinney, whose last night in office was during the meeting, said she voted against the motion to support of Loren’s hard work and expe­rience as interim clerk.

“Michelle has stepped up to the plate numerous times to fill in, and she has run six elec­tions now,” Kinney said. “She’s done an awesome job. I really think we need to look inside first. She knows the job, and I really support her.”

During public comment, Hillsdale res­ident Penny Swan spoke against Mayor Ses­sions’ decision to appoint Loren as city clerk. Swan said she was shocked by the decision, but thankful the council chose to repeal the appointment.

“With the city clerk meeting, I was blown away,” Swan said. “You were going to discuss it, there were six appli­cants, and then boom! You try to appoint somebody tonight. That’s strange to me, I thought, ‘Something’s not right here.’ Thank you guys for having calmer heads, that speaks a lot to open, honest gov­ernment here.”

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Thomas Novelly
Collegian Editor-in-Chief, Thomas Novelly was born in Novi, Michigan, but was raised in Franklin, Tennessee, making him a self-proclaimed "Yankee gone South." Thomas began writing for The Collegian as a sophomore, and since has served as a reporter, columnist, and Assistant City News Editor. He has also worked for two major publications, interning at the Washington Free Beacon in D.C. and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has been seen in National publications such as CBS News, National Review Online, Stars And Stripes, and USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.