Gainesville City Commission candidates react to three assistant city manager positions eliminated

Gainesville City Commission candidates react to three assistant city manager positions eliminated
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 11:24 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Changes to the city of Gainesville are leaving people without a job. Interim City Manager Cynthia Curry sent city commissioners a notice saying the three assistant city manager positions will be eliminated.

Fred Murry who served since 2007 , Deborah Bowie serving since 2019 and Andrea Agha who was appointed in August of 2021 are all losing their jobs as assistant city manager. Candidates for the CIty Commission At-Large seat, Cynthia Chestnut and Matt Howland thanked them for all they’ve done.

Curry declined to be interviewed but in the letter to Mayor Lauren Poe and City Commissioners she said the move is to  centralize management.

Related story: Gainesville City Manager lays off three assistant city managers, consolidates positions

Curry is creating the position  chief operating officer, and Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones will temporarily fill the role starting Monday.

Director of Public Works Phil Mann will be interim special advisor to curry.

Candidate Cynthia Chestnut said the change caught her by surprise.

“I need more information on what she’s looking for in an organizational structure,” Chestnut said. “If the thought is to try to reduce costs for the citizens then I’d like to hear that. if she’s looking at reducing cost then you would not be looking at creating new positions.”

Candidate Matt Howland said he trusts Curry’s judgment.

“This is a great opportunity to improve the efficiency of city hall. I’m excited about a few things in particular, Howland. One, chief jones serving as interim COO. Chief Jones is a treasure to this city and we’re honored to have him.”

Mayor Poe and city commissioners declined to speak on camera. But in a statement commissioner, Reina Saco said, “We asked her to perform her duties with the full authority of the office and must put faith in the plan she has to improve how we serve our neighbors.”

In a statement, a city of Gainesville spokesperson said, “The organizational changes implemented by the city manager are designed to centralize and fortify our management structure by streamlining operations and leveraging our resources more strategically. This move ensures consistency in direction, expectations and support across the organization. As we transition, our collective energy remains focused on delivering best-in-class services to our neighbors.”

Commissioner Saco said she will be meeting with Curry tomorrow to discuss changes further.

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