Flint, MI – Flint City Council voted unanimously to appoint Davina Donahue as city clerk during a special meeting on Dec. 5, 2022.
Donahue will continue in her current capacity as interim city clerk through Dec. 31 and will begin her 5-year term as city clerk on Jan. 1, 2023.
Council voted 7-0 to approve Donahue’s appointment with Council President Allie Herkenroder, Council Vice President Ladel Lewis, and Councilmembers Eric Mays, Quincy Murphy, Judy Priestley, Jerri Winfrey-Carter, and Eva Worthing all voting yes.
Councilmembers Tonya Burns and Dennis Pfeiffer were absent.
At a Sept. 12 meeting, Council had requested that the city’s Human Resources and Labor Department solicit applications for a new city clerk following former clerk Inez Brown’s retirement announcement.
According to Human Resources Director Eddie Smith, at least 25 candidates applied for the position before the Oct. 31 deadline. However, Donahue was one of just two candidates that Smith’s department deemed qualified for the position, based on the job description approved by Council.
Council agreed to invite both qualified candidates to an interview, but one later opted out of the hiring process, which left Donahue as the only remaining candidate for the city clerk position at the Dec. 5 special meeting.
During the interview portion of that meeting, Herkenroder asked Donahue what her goals would be for her first 90 days as city clerk.
“The first 90 days would be: the codification of the code, which has been put on the back burner a little bit because of the circumstances. The budget is coming up, so I would have to start working on the budget, but I would do an audit and maybe adjust what we already have in place now,” Donahue said.
“One of my other priorities would be election and council staffing to address the people we have now and the need for any additional workers. That’s in deference to contracts, unions and things like that, but I personally believe that some of the jobs need to be restructured to reflect what we’re doing now as opposed to what we did 20 to 25 years ago when these job descriptions were created,” she said. “That would be a priority.”
Donahue has been performing her duties as interim city clerk since Oct. 1. Those duties included administrating Michigan’s 2022 general election for the City of Flint. The election was held on Nov. 8 and the results were made public the next day.
Mays asked Donahue if she was proud of how she handled her first election.
“That’s a tricky question,” Donahue answered. “Yes, but I did see a lot of areas that need improvement.”
Worthing said that she’d only heard positive comments about Donahue’s leadership of the office’s election division, but Murphy disagreed, saying he was concerned about how Flint handled the November results.
“I did not hear good things about this election. Quite frankly, I was one of those waiting to see the election results. I was concerned immediately about what was going on with the election,” Murphy said, adding that he had wondered why Flint’s results were taking “so long” to report.
“You look on TV at 11 o’clock (and) they’re posting the election the results. Then for the City of Flint the next morning, there were no results. Then, later on, the results eventually came in. We can’t have that,” Murphy said.
“Every concern that you and everyone else has will be addressed,” Donahue responded. “I can have ideas and want to do a lot of things, but I have to follow the law.”
Donahue said that as interim clerk, she wouldn’t want to “establish rules and policies that another clerk might come in and do” differently.
“It’s important to me that the public is educated,” she said. “People see these things and they don’t realize that Flint is the largest municipality in the county. We have more precincts, we have more voters, so our stuff is always going to come later, because it just takes us longer.”
Donahue also said that “a lot of paperwork” wasn’t completed properly during the November election, which she said would be addressed. Donahue added that she wanted to take advantage of the off-year for elections to help city staff “re-focus” on their priorities and responsibilities related to election laws.
After Council finished asking questions, Mays made the motion that Donahue be named city clerk. The was motion was approved unanimously by all of the present councilmembers.
Prior to her appointment as interim city clerk, Donahue served as deputy clerk under former clerk Inez Brown for three years. According to Donahue’s resume, she has worked for the City of Flint in various roles for over 23 years, starting as a personnel clerk for the Flint Fire Department in April 1999.