One hundred applicants sought the position of executive assistant to Mayor Deke Copenhaver, from experienced executive assistants and secretaries to real estate agents and Fort Gordon personnel.
The ad was posted for only five days.
All were seeking the post held for nearly eight years by Karyn Nixon, who left the mayor’s office for the chief of staff’s office at Georgia Regents University.
In the end, former LeanCor sales executive Al Dallas was extended a job offer July 5 at a salary of $41,488.40, according to a document obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.
The applicants included Natasha McFarley – who is already an assistant to Copenhaver but classified as an executive assistant I (the top assistant job is executive assistant II). Another city employee, 911 officer Jessica Wright, also applied. Both hold master’s degrees.
Copenhaver said the ad’s specification that a master’s degree was desired helped him narrow the large pool of applicants. Among them, 32 held master’s degrees, 47 held bachelor’s degrees and three held doctorates.
“Out of 102 applicants, there were obviously some good résumés out there,” the mayor said.
Copenhaver, who selects his own staffers, said he sought a candidate with a business background to assist him with the goals of his final 18 months in office. He expects the next mayor to select his or her own assistants.
“I had hoped to find somebody with a business background just based on the fact that it’s an 18-month position with a lot of economic development projects,” the mayor said. Dallas is “very qualified, so I know he’ll do a good job.”
The city took more than three weeks to provide public information on the applicants requested by The Augusta Chronicle under the state’s Open Records laws and tried to bill the newspaper $131.54 to get it.
The initial request was filed in late June. City staff attorney Jody Smitherman responded July 2 that it would cost The Chronicle $131.54 to obtain the documents, because of about four hours of labor needed to review and redact potentially confidential information from the applications.
To reduce the cost, the newspaper submitted a revised request July 9 for the first page of each application, but neither the city law office nor the designated records custodian acknowledged or responded to the request until Monday, eight days after the three-day window in which local governments are required under Georgia’s Open Records Act to respond had ended. On Monday, Smitherman provided, for $17.36, 103 first pages of applications; three were duplicates.