by Robin Kemp
The City of Forest Park has announced three finalists for the position of city manager, according to Interim City Manager Shalonda Brown:
Sims, who is Deputy Administrator of Augusta, holds an MBA from Mercer with a concentration in international business, a B.S. in criminology from Georgia State, and a certificate in Digital Transformation in Government from Harvard. Previously, Sims worked for the City of East Point as public safety administrator and as a project management/senior management analyst.
In 2019, Sims moved from deputy administrator to interim administrator, garnering a $20,404 pay raise for a salary of $142,404, according to BlufftonToday.com. In 2015, Sims made $65,000 in East Point.
Dr. Marc-Antoine Cooper
Cooper is Deputy City Manager of Deltona, FL and serves on the Development Review Committee. His doctorate from Argosy University and undergraduate degree are in business administration; his masters is in public administration; and he holds a certificate from Cornell in executive leadership. Cooper has served as Deltona’s director of buildings and code compliance services, as well as interim director of water and public works; Detroit’s chief customer officer/chief operating officer for the Water and Sewer Department; Atlanta’s director of operations in the Office of Customer and Business Services for the Department of Watershed Management; and Georgia State Health Benefits Plan director of operations.
Last May, Cooper was one of 15 finalists for North Miami’s city manager position. In November, Deltona’s city commission voted 4-3 to demote Cooper to deputy manager from interim city manager, cancelling his contract on November 19. Deltona, like Forest Park, barred the public and media from its May 18 city commission meeting, citing COVID-19, according to The West Volusia Beacon. Deltona city officials apologized and let the reporter in after one hour but did not admit critics and people running to unseat commissioners up for reelection. A reporter had been allowed to attend the April 1 meeting during the pandemic. The commission had directed Cooper to solve the problem.
Brooke Smith, Esq.
Smith is City Manager of East St. Louis, IL. She holds a juris doctorate from St. Louis University Law, a master’s in public affairs from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a bachelor’s degree cum laude in psychology from Lindenwood University. Smith also has served as East St. Louis’ community development director and Dellwood, MO’s city clerk/assistant to the city administrator.
In an alumni profile, Smith told Lindenwood University, “The cool thing about local government is that you are never limited to just your department or practice area. I have the opportunity work with human resources, the legal department, and public safety….Psychology is still my first love and I feel that it has not only prepared me for my career, but for life in general. I think every leader should have a background in psychology! Returning to old favorites like positive reinforcement has helped me when I have to provide constructive criticism to my team. I believe it has prepared me for working with the public and being able to adapt to the different personalities I encounter on a daily basis. Most importantly, I believe it helps me connect with people by learning what motivates them.”
In 2019, the St. Louis American reported, Smith agreed to a $20,000 pay cut (from $110,000 to $90,000) soon after taking the position due to the city’s fiscal crisis.
The City of Forest Park held an Emergency Special Called Meeting on Monday, January 25 consisting of an executive session “for the purposes of personnel, litigation, real estate, and legal matters.” Under Georgia Open Meetings Law, executive sessions of governing bodies are closed to the press and general public but can be reviewed in camera–meaning privately in a judge’s chambers. It’s not clear whether one of the items had to do with choosing these three candidates for city manager.
See 2015 salaries for the City of Forest Park: https://govsalaries.com/salaries/GA/city-of-forest-park?year=2015