Farmington City Clerk Sue Halberstadt made it official Monday: After almost 19 years with the city, she’s retiring, effective August 31, 2018.
“I’ve so enjoyed working for this city,” Halberstadt said during a city council study session. “It’s a very, very difficult decision. It’s time for me, in terms of my personal life.”
Halberstadt said she has formed lifelong relationships since starting as a part-time employee in the city manager’s office.
“We have truly… one of the most cohesive staffs in Farmington. We have a respect for each other that you don’t often see in other communities. I’ve really appreciated the ride.”
Halberstadt recommended Deputy Clerk Mary Mullison as her replacement. She said that Mullison is a certified municipal clerk and is tech-savvy, always looking for ways to replace paper.
“I’m just thrilled that she loves working for the city and wants to be in this position,” Halberstadt said. She also recommended Jen Tomlinson to replace Mullison as deputy clerk and said Tomlinson has been taking courses to become a certified city clerk.
Council members Joe LaRussa and Sara Bowman supported Halberstadt’s recommendation. LaRussa said her endorsement of Mullison and Tomlinson “speaks volumes. Your assessment means a lot to everybody around the table.”
“I think one of the things that keeps us strong and consistent is having an administration that carries through institutional knowledge,” Bowman said. “Council could be different every two years. One of the things that really binds the city is having folks who know how it works.”
Council member Bill Galvin said while Mullison is a qualified candidate, “this is a public office, and I think we owe it to the citizens to offer public positions to the broader public and see what’s out there.” While council member Maria Taylor initially agreed with him, she reversed her position with discussion of the new clerk running the November mid-term election.
Mayor Steven Schneemann said he was also inclined to go with Halberstadt’s recommendation. He agreed with Bowman’s point about institutional knowledge, noting significant turnover on council and among city staff over the past several years.
“I also know that in a really tight job market, if you have somebody that’s good internally, that’s potentially something you don’t want to throw away,” he said. “It’s important for any organization to help people… feel like there’s potential to move up. If that sense isn’t there… then I think you’re going to struggle to get good people and keep good people.”
Galvin suggested a “hybrid” process, posting the job and having a committee of city council members and the city attorney review applications, then forward to the full council any that seemed worthy of consideration. City attorney Tom Schultz said that would require an open meeting, while having city manager David Murphy review applications and forward recommendations would not.
” I do think the process should come back for a formal blessing at the next council meeting,” Schultz said.
No action was taken; Schultz and Murphy are expected to bring back a list of options based on the study session discussion.