Peters to take helm

The Winfield City Commission on Monday appointed Brenda Peters, Winfield city clerk and finance director, as interim city manager.

Peters was chosen after an executive session lasting more than two hours during a special commission meeting Monday night. The appointment was announced via a message signed by Mayor Greg Thompson and commissioners Phil Jarvis and Ron Hutto.

“We would like to thank all the employees for their past and continued support,” the message said. “The search for a full-time city manager will begin immediately.”

Peters replaced former manager Jeremy Willmoth, who parted ways with the city last week amid controversy over the firing of a police officer and allegations of poor employee morale.

Peters said her job as interim manager is mainly to keep the city moving forward on various projects.

“We certainly don’t want to be stagnant or fall behind,” Peters said.

Her job is also to act as a mouthpiece between city employees, customers and the Winfield City Commission. Peters said the hiring process for a new city manager could include asking customers and city employees what they want in a future manager.

There was no public involvement in the hiring Willmoth, who was named city manager in December of 2016 after long-time City Manager Warren Porter announced his retirement less than three months earlier.

Willmoth left his job as Cowley County administrator, where he served for about five years, to take the City of Winfield job. He started work there Feb. 1, 2017.

Peters has been with the City of Winfield for 23 years. She was initially hired as deputy city clerk, then became city clerk in 2009. Director of finance was added to her duties in 2012. Before coming to Winfield, she worked for the cities of Wright, Wyo., and Gillette, Wyo.

“The City of Winfield has employees who are second to none,” Peters said. “I want to help in any way I can through this transition process until a permanent manager is hired.”

The city has a lot of department heads who could have done the job well, Winfield Mayor Greg Thompson said, but Peters stood out because of her longevity with the city and familiarity with commission meeting procedures.

With an interim manager selected, the commission is looking toward hiring a permanent replacement. The governing body is currently gathering the information it needs to create a job posting.

“We want to work toward this as quickly as we can,” Thompson said.

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