published Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Several high-level Chattanooga officials retiring


by Cliff Hightower
Jerry Stewart, director of waste resources for the City of Chattanooga, stands in front of a primary clarifier in this file photo.
Jerry Stewart, director of waste resources for the City of Chattanooga, stands in front of a primary clarifier in this file photo.
Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    City Personnel Director Donna Kelley
    Photo by David Banks

Several high-level city officials have retired, but there are no plans to fill those positions with a new administration on the horizon.

For now, "there are people in place who can fill those positions," said Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield.

Human resources Director Donna Kelley, wastewater manager Jerry Stewart and Public Works financial analyst Bob McGee have left city government.

City voters will elect a new mayor in March.

Beeland said the upcoming election did not influence any of the employees' decisions.

"They're longtime employees," he said. "It's just time."

But he said it is a bit unusual with so many retirements coming at this time.

"It does seem the pool is a little large this year," he said.

Three candidates are vying for city mayor -- former state Sen. Andy Berke, former city worker Guy Satterfield and perennial candidate Chester Heathington Jr. Berke is the frontrunner in the race with a war chest in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

New mayors traditionally appoint some of their own administrators to lead city departments.

Some administrators said Monday they hope to retain their positions.

Steve Leach, Public Works administrator, said he would consider if asked.

"Your assumption is when the new administration comes in, you will be replaced," he said. "I haven't been asked to stay on at this point."

Parks and Recreation Director Larry Zehnder also said he would not rule out returning.

"I would be interested in talking to them," he said.

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