Mayor Candidates Disagree On Chief Of Staff Position
(from left) Mayor Lioneld Jordan, challenger and former mayor, Dan Coody
A two-time challenger for the Fayetteville mayor’s post criticized the incumbent mayor and how he runs the city; and the mayor was eager to respond.
Mayoral challenger Dan Coody, who was Fayetteville mayor from 2001 -2008, criticized Mayor Lioneld Jordan at a news conference Thursday.
Coody said Jordan, who took office 2009 after out-seating Coody, is relying too heavily on his Chief of Staff Don Marr, and that Marr is making too many decisions about the city that should be the mayor’s call.
“This isn’t about Don Marr, the person; it’s about position,” Coody said.
Marr, incidentally, was ordered by a judge this week to pay $140,000 to settle a civil lawsuit over a business debt. The publicity about Marr’s settlement prompted Coody to consider the chief of staff role, he said.
“I was asked who I had as chief of staff or, if I were elected, who I would hire for that position,” Coody said. “Many people are surprised to learn that this position never existed until it was created for this administration.”
“That is ridiculous,” Jordan said Thursday evening. “I want to be absolutely clear to the public: That is not a new position. I did not create a new position. The position was there when Dan Coody was mayor, but he called it chief of operations. I simply changed the name to chief of staff.”
Coody maintains the chief of staff’s position creates “a layer of bureaucracy” that clouds the mayor judgment and distances him from city matters. If elected, he’ll eliminate the position, saving taxpayers $600,000 in four years, Coody said.
“The chief of staff does discuss issues with the city department heads, but I personally meet every Monday with all of the city’s department heads and the chief of staff to discuss any matters, any concerns,” said Jordan. “I am absolutely engaged with those department heads.”
Coody also raised an issue about a pension benefit that is available to whomever is mayor. Coody said that Jordan, as mayor, has a pension option that after working at least 10 years as mayor, or a total of at least 10 years as mayor and a city alderman, he can draw 50 percent of his salary for the rest of his life, once he is age 60.
Before he was elected mayor, Jordan was Fayetteville’s vice mayor for four years, and a city alderman for eight years.
Coody said he was criticized in the last election by opposition who accused him of seeking the job for the retirement benefits. To show constituents that that claim is bogus, Coody said he has closed his city 401K fund and moved the money into a private account, pledging he will not seek the 50 percent payout, if elected.
Coody encouraged Jordan to do that same.
Jordan said he already has.
“I think he’s misinformed,” Jordan said. “I signed an affidavit on Nov. 9, 2008, and filed it with the city clerk, saying I will not seek the [50 percent pension benefit].”
Coody said despite the affidavit, Jordan has not officially chosen to decline the benefit.