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Public Affairs director decision on hold
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The appointment of a new public affairs director was postponed after the selection process came under fire from the two part-time commissioners, who expressed dissatisfaction with not being able to meet the finalist before the vote.
Erica Fatima, currently the deputy press secretary at the Georgia Department of Transportation and a former employee of the Rockdale County Public School system, was on the agenda to be appointed at Tuesday's Board of Commissioners voting session.
In a rarely seen move, the motion to appoint her died for lack of a second, and instead, the commissioners voted to defer the decision until the next voting session, giving Commissioners JaNice Van Ness and Oz Nesbitt an opportunity to meet with Fatima individually.
Human Resources Director Jeff Pogue said he had received 115 applications for the position, which were reduced to nine that were interviewed and scored by a panel of four people. That panel consisted of Glenn Sears of the Conyers-Rockdale Economic Development Council, Fred Boscarino, president of the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce, Tax Commissioner Dan Ray, and Tax Assessor Lamar Sims.
The top four scoring candidates were asked to come back to be reviewed by the Chairman, but one candidate withdrew their name. The top three candidates were Lisa King, Holly Lafontaine and Erica Fatima. Out of the top three, the Chairman chose Fatima.
Nesbitt said he understood that Van Ness was not "at peace" with the process. "I think we should slow it down a little bit, yield and give her that opportunity (to meet with the finalist). I think we can come back and make that decision at that time. Our department is working in fine capacity; we have good leadership under our interim director. I think in two weeks time is just as fine. "
Van Ness pointed out all the commissioners were able to meet and talk with the chief of staff finalist before he was appointed. "I would love to see that as a common practice," she said, for director level positions.
"I'm okay with this," said Oden. "So everyone understands the Chairman did not give the directive to hire anyone."
Fatima, 38, is a native of Chicago, a graduate of DePaul University, moved to Georgia 15 years ago and is a resident in Newton County with her son.
"My strengths are creating and empowering others through innovative and ingenious marketing mediums," Fatima wrote in her biography. "Working in collaboration with Executive staff and company departments , I can expertly communicate complex system ideas in succinct, coherent messages to audiences across a broad spectrum."
In other BOC business:
The first reading of an amendment to bring county ordinances in line with state laws for carrying firearms on county owned property was put off after it was pointed out at the April 12 work session that the state legislature, which ended its session Friday, had a bill that might affect firearms carry laws.
Sheriff Jeff Wigington expressed concerns at the work session about allowing guns to be carried into county buildings, courts and the sheriff's office.
Van Ness later said the bill would not affect the county's proposed amendment and pointed out there would be time between the first reading and second reading for any changes, but the BOC voted 2-1, with Van Ness voting against, to defer the first reading to the next meeting.
Nesbitt said he was not against the ordinance but wanted to speak with the Sheriff. "I think if all parties are aligned in the right direction, I see no problem in moving forward. But I would like an opportunity to speak with the sheriff and make sure my mind is cleared in terms of our forward movement at this time."
County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge said, " I think what needs to take place right now is a little bit of education on all sides. "