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Chip Henderson

Correction

Additional information supplied by City Council Chairman Chip Henderson after press time shows that management analyst Randy Burns will be considered for a position among the council's staff.

Chattanooga City Council Clerk Sandra Freeman won't be considered for her current job even though she has 30 years of governing experience, according to City Council members who recently decided to restructure their staff.

Instead, they will interview Freeman's deputy clerk, Nicole Gwyn, and a restaurant manager, Katherine Lopez, who doesn't have state certification to be a clerk.

Gwyn and Lopez were chosen from 49 applicants by Councilmen Chip Henderson, Jerry Mitchell and Russell Gilbert who said both candidates appeared to meet new requirements. Those requirements include a bachelor's degree, municipal government experience and state certification.

In her application Lopez said she has both municipal experience and clerk certification. But the Tennessee Secretary of State's office said Lopez hasn't submitted any documents with the state to become certified. When reached by phone, she said she accidentally checked the box for certification, but seven years ago she worked as a clerk in Pennsylvania.

Henderson said if Lopez doesn't meet all of the requirements she won't be considered.

Meanwhile, Freeman, who previously worked in the executive branch of Tallahassee, Fla., is incensed because she was overlooked for a job she has held for a year.

"I think it's incredulous to overlook a woman with 30 years experience," she said.

The new hires are part of an effort to improve services for the council members. The effort to reorganize staff started after Freeman asked for a raise.

After months of heated debate and meetings with the city's Human Resources Department, Henderson presented a plan to City Council to redo the positions, explaining that he needed someone on staff to write legislation.

Several council members protested the change, saying it was a plot to get rid of the current staff. But by a split 5-4 vote, the council decided to go forward with the new jobs.

More than 300 people have applied for all four council positions, but only the clerk and management analyst are appointed positions. The current management analyst -- Randy Burns -- is one of six candidates who meet the new requirements.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick Smith at jsmith@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.

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