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North Las Vegas’ choice for acting city clerk surprises some

North Las Vegas’ city clerk has retired, and the person filling her post has surprised some in City Hall.

Amanda Dillard, who is the acting clerk, has been with the city since 2009. She started as an engineering intern and became an assistant to the utilities director, according to Transparent Nevada, a website with a database of public salaries. Dillard worked her way up to what’s known to insiders as the “Ninth Floor,” the top tier at City Hall where North Las Vegas’ most powerful officials have offices. In August 2014, Dillard became Mayor John Lee’s assistant before being promoted a few months later to special assistant to the mayor and council, a job that hadn’t previously existed.

City Hall insiders said the move was unusual as Dillard does not have clerk office experience. Dillard does not have the municipal clerk certifications listed as preferred on the city’s outline for the job. But those certifications aren’t required by law. The city clerk handles elections and oversees city records. The position reports to and is appointed by the city manager.

“She’s very familiar with the council meeting agenda process, has developed agendas and conducted strategic planning and scheduling for the mayor and council,” city spokesman Mitch Fox said in an email. Fox said City Manager Qiong Liu appointed Dillard.

Both Dillard and Liu ignored requests for comment for this story.

Fox said a nationwide search is underway for a permanent clerk.

North Las Vegas Clerk Barbara Andolina retired Jan. 7. She had been working in the clerk’s office since 2006. She ascended to the top job in fall 2013, first as acting city clerk after the previous clerk left. Andolina’s base salary was $102,398.

Dillard received a temporary 5 percent boost to her base salary of $51,742 while she is acting clerk, according to Fox.

The change comes as more pressure might be put on the city clerk. If the Nevada Supreme Court allows a recall to go through against Municipal Judge Catherine Ramsey, the responsibility of coordinating the recall election will fall on the clerk.

It isn’t the first time the city has put someone in a job that doesn’t exactly match their background. In February, the city named Cass Palmer, former president and CEO of United Way of Southern Nevada, director of Neighborhood & Leisure Services. Palmer had no experience in parks. The city hired him after he asked if he could work there and the city found a space for him, Liu said at the time.

The city’s hiring practices are the subject of ethics complaints filed in March 2014 by longtime human resources employees who were let go after the city outsourced their department.

The complaints argue Lee has arranged for the city to flout traditional hiring practices to usher in the person he chooses.

North Las Vegas has a council-manager style of governance, meaning the city manager has the executive role and serves at the pleasure of the council. The structure often is compared to how a CEO answers to a board of directors. Under this style, the mayor is a figurehead.

Lee has expressed frustration over the fact that the city charter doesn’t give him power over the city clerk. In February, Lee made an unsuccessful pitch to the Legislature to change the law to allow cities to rewrite their charters without having to seek the Legislature’s approval. His example for what North Las Vegas would do with this additional power was that he would like to rewrite the charter to make the city clerk to report to him.

Contact Bethany Barnes at bbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Find her on Twitter: @betsbarnes

 

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