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Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley in the audience of the Maryland House of Delegates.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley in the audience of the Maryland House of Delegates. (Ulysses Munoz / Baltimore Sun fi / BSMG)

Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley says he has the votes to appoint public works director David Jarrell to city manager following a two-hour closed meeting Wednesday with the City Council, some of whom said the nomination doesn’t meet city law.

Buckley named Jarrell to replace City Manager Teresa Sutherland who is set to resign next year. Jarrell’s appointment is on the agenda for the Dec. 9 City Council meeting. If confirmed, Jarrell would start his new position on Feb. 1.

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City law requires the city manager to have an advanced degree in business or public administration and at least eight years’ experience in local government. Jarrell, who has served as public works director since 2010, has undergraduate and master’s degrees in civil engineering. Since Buckley named Jarrell as Sutherland’s replacement on meet 1, critics have said Jarrell, while likable and competent, doesn’t meet the qualifications for the job. Buckley has defended the choice.

Wednesday’s meeting was initially called by Alderman DaJuan Gay, D-Ward 6, to allow those with concerns about Jarrell’s appointment to express their doubts while letting Buckley lay out his argument for why the public works director is the best person for the job.

“After two hours, we got on the same page," Gay said.

Buckley thinks so too.

“I think maybe some people were swayed I hope," Buckley said. "It’s tricky filling positions in the city and we have to be mindful of how hard that task has been. I believe David is the perfect person for the city at this time, for this job. A few councilmembers don’t agree with that. They want us to do a national search. I think because of the immediacy of election and the political nature of the position, we should be grateful that David wants to step up.”

When asked if he had enough votes to get Jarrell confirmed, Buckley said, “Yeah, I think so.”

“Some things needed to be said and this was the appropriate place to say them,” Alderwoman Rhonda Pindell Charles, D-Ward 3, said.

Councilmembers Elly Tierney and Rob Savidge, both of whom have called for a national search be completed to fill the city manager position, are still questioning whether Jarrell’s qualifications meet city law and how the public works department will handle his departure.

“I have no idea if the mayor will be moving forward with his appointment or not, or if a charter amendment will need to be introduced. I remain concerned about the impact this will have to public works and think we should do a national search," Savidge said, adding that he is awaiting a ruling from the office of law and human resources on whether Jarrell’s qualifications meet city law.

Alderman Fred Paone, R-Ward 2, has requested the office of law for an advisory opinion, but he has not heard back.

Buckley said changes to the charter may be incoming because some job requirements for city positions are unnecessarily strict.

“I asked them to look at the experience and what business qualifications are within his master’s degree. I believe that more than qualifies him," Buckley said of Jarrell. "We all agree that we are excluding people that we do need to do some changes to the charter. That has to be done next year anyway after the census comes in.”

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