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The Pima Town Council has whittled from 13 to five the number of town manager applicants they will interview for the position left open when Sean Lewis resigned last month. In addition, the council also voted Tuesday night to pursue hiring a new full-time town attorney.

Three of the five candidates are local residents and all five of them will be interviewed behind closed doors Tuesday and Thursday, said council member Sherrill Teeter.

Teeter said each of the candidates have great work histories, are educated and have superior references.

The council will name their first choice and select a backup candidate if the first applicant does not want to take the job, Teeter said. She hopes the new manager will be in place by the end of the month.

Council member Deborah Barr said the council has a good variety of applicants according to their paperwork.

Because the names of the chosen applicants have only been discussed in a closed executive session, Teeter said she couldn’t release their names. Pima Mayor C.B. Fletcher, Councilman Lucas Hoopes and Vice Mayor Dale Rogers did not return phone calls.

Lewis, who was hired in July 2017, resigned Aug. 5 after narrowly keeping his job in May when a preliminary audit revealed he had failed to turn in some receipts and had failed to properly document others. A final audit report revealed the town’s credit and debit cards had also been used for personal reasons by Lewis. Teeter and fellow council member Lucas Hoopes called for his immediate termination. He resigned the night a vote was to take place on his termination.

Also during Tuesday night’s special meeting, the council voted unanimously to advertise for a new full-time attorney.

Grant Walker, who began work as the town’s land attorney, was hired to be the regular attorney several months ago, but some of the council members were unaware the town had an attorney until recently, Teeter said following the meeting.

Rogers, the vice mayor, brought up the hiring of an attorney at the last council meeting, she said.

“Because everything has to be done the right way, we will advertise for a lawyer,” she said.

Having an attorney to keep the counsel on the correct legal path is critical, she said. In the past the town has encountered legal issues, and although she didn’t want to discuss them directly, Teeter said these issues could have been avoided if the town employed an attorney.

The topic of the attorney’s salary will be discussed at the next town council meeting, she said.

Councilmember Deborah Barr said after the meeting she felt Walker was adequately meeting the town’s needs. He would answer whenever the town needed advice and he would come to meetings when needed, she said.

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