Nashville Mayor John Cooper is carrying a somewhat smaller staff than his predecessors, and more members of his team are splitting their duties between multiple roles.
One unfilled position getting attention is the director’s post at the Office of New Americans, which was first created in 2014 as part of several measures to better connect Metro with immigrants.
The director position has been vacant more than a month — and the administration now says it won’t be filled. Instead, some of that office’s duties will be handled by a lower-level assistant who will join the team in a couple weeks with a dual role.
“Without a director level position heading this office, it is far too likely that our city will suffer as community members fall through the cracks and are unable to access the services they need,” said Councilwoman Sandra Sepulveda in an email to WPLN.
Sepulveda represents a diverse district and made a point of asking about the vacancy at a meeting of the mayor’s immigration task force on Oct. 30. Similar to statements from two local nonprofits, Sepulveda said many of her constituents were asking when a director would be chosen.
“Not yet,” answered Mary Falls, a senior advisor to the mayor. “We have a lot of empty spots.”
Staffing Details Emerge
Generally, the mayor’s office has opted not to announce most of its hires.
The 29-person staff list didn’t appear online until after records requests by WPLN and The Tennessean, which detailed the salaries being paid in the office.
The administration isn’t using an organizational chart. About a third of employees have dual job titles. And a pair of senior advisors haven’t been publicly attached to particular subject areas.
Altogether, these kinds of uncertainties have left some officials unsure who is making decisions, where to direct questions, or which representative may show up for discussions.