SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. - After a weeklong delay, city commissioners have hired a city clerk.
The board approved Diane Beavers by a 3-2 vote at a special called meeting Tuesday.
Beavers was recommended by City Administrator Bently Thomas after he received 28 applications for the job and conducted seven interviews.
Last week, Commissioner Charles Reynolds said he wanted the board to take some time to look more closely at the black applicants because few blacks are employed in city or Marion County government offices.
Commissioners did not say how many of the applications were from blacks, but did say that a black was among the final three applicants considered. Beavers is white.
"What they always throw in my face is that [black applicants] don't have any experience," Reynolds said. "How in the world are you going to get experience if you don't get the job? You have to be taught these jobs."
Reynolds, who is black, said he wants only to keep young blacks from leaving the area in search of similar jobs.
"I don't want anybody to look at me and say, 'Now, he's prejudiced,'" he said. "I'm not prejudiced. We just don't have any black people working in these [governmental] offices."
Mayor Mike Killian said he agreed with Reynolds' statements last week, but he made the motion to hire Beavers on Tuesday.
"In seven years [as mayor], I have not failed to support whoever was going to be supervising [an employee]," he said, referring to Thomas and his recommendation. "So I'm not going to do that this time either."
Reynolds, who cast one of the dissenting votes, said there was no use in talking about the issue further.
"I think everybody knows how I feel about it," he said Tuesday. "There's no use in discussing it and holding up the works anymore."
Thomas said the city clerk's salary will start at $28,000 per year and, after a six-month probationary period, the city would "bump it up just a little bit."
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.