The Chattanooga City Council on Tuesday evening unanimously approved two key appointments to Mayor Tim Kelly's administration.
Council members gave the green light to the mayor's confirmation of Dan Reuter as administrator of the city's Department of City Planning and Scott Martin as administrator of the city's Department of Parks and Outdoors.
Although comments were sparse among council members, Councilman Darrin Ledford of East Brainerd commended both appointments after he said he had lengthy conversations with both.
Both candidates were selected after a nationwide search, Kelly spokesperson Mary Beth Ikard said late last month.
Reuter has worked in the fields of planning, transportation and development for 30 years. He is president of RSI Strategy LLC, a Georgia-based planning and economic firm. Reuter also serves on the American Planning Association Legislative and Policy Committee.
Martin serves as executive director of the River Heritage Conservancy Inc. in Indiana, a nonprofit that builds and maintains parks in urban areas. He is also the North American co-chair and executive board member for World Urban Parks, a position that has allowed him to present research in the U.S. and a number of foreign countries.
Reuter's annual salary will be $132,777. Martin's annual salary will be $140,280.
Reuter and Martin are both white men, a topic that has surfaced as an issue by some council members who would prefer a city administration that better reflects the community.
During a mid-December council meeting, Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod alleged that the city has continuously put white men in positions of power while minorities that better represent the community have been left out.
"I am concerned about not having adequate representation that represents our community, and this board clearly shows this is not representative or reflective of our county or our city," she said.
Coonrod declined to comment on the two most recent appointments.
Councilman Isiah Hester of Washington Hills, however, said the issue was problematic in a brief interview after last week's council meeting.
"We look at it from this sense," Hester said. "I think the hierarchy in the government should match the mass of the city when you look at gender and look at race. To be a better city, to be a progressive environment, we're going to need that diversity."
Chris Anderson, the city's administrator of innovation delivery and performance, said the municipality "is not where we want to be" as he presented a demographic makeup of its 39 boards and commissions that serve as advisory bodies to the Chattanooga government during a council committee meeting last month.
The majority — 53% — of Chattanoogans are women, and 34% of city boards and commission members are women, according to Anderson's presentation.
Although Chattanooga is 31% African American, 19% of those who serve on the city's various boards are African American, and 1% of board and commission members are Hispanic despite representing 9% of Chattanooga's population.
Meanwhile, white people account for 77% of the city's board and commission members, which exceeds the 60% they represent in the city's overall population.
Anderson said his office has been working to gather better demographic information about the city's boards and commissions in an effort to address the longstanding lack of diversity since May, after Mayor Tim Kelly took office in April.
Historically, the city has done a poor job tracking demographic data of its boards and commissions, Anderson said. Demographic data was not always captured when people applied for those roles, and although the city is actively working to correct the issue, 24% of board and commission gender makeup and 31% racial makeup remains unknown.
Contact Logan Hullinger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-319-5158. Follow him on Twitter @LoganHullinger.