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Mayor Kelly Girtz Moves to Fill Long-Vacant Auditor Position

Gavin Hassemer. Credit: Jeff Montgomery/ACCUG

Mayor Kelly Girtz has recommended a longtime Athens-Clarke County staffer to fill the role of internal auditor—a position that has been vacant for nearly two years.

Gavin Hassemer is currently the assistant director of the Central Services Department, which handles maintenance and landscaping. He also served as interim director while Andrew Saunders was temporarily running Housing and Community Development. Hassemer was a senior planner prior to transferring to Central Services.

Hassemer graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree in urban and regional studies, and from American Public University with a master’s degree in political science.

“I know that Gavin will approach the role of auditor with the critical eye and attention to detail that has characterized all of his work here,” says Girtz. 

The Office of Operational Analysis, formerly the auditor’s office, has been in disarray since 2013, when then-Mayor Nancy Denson declined to reappoint John Wolfe, who’d held the position since city-county unification in 1991. Denson waited a year before appointing an interim auditor, retired ACC administrator Steve Martin, who served for a year. In 2015 Denson named Martin’s assistant, Stephanie Maddox, to the position. Maddox lasted six years but only completed three audits during that time—of Leisure Services summer camps, animal control and the sheriff’s office. The ACC Commission voted to fire her in September 2021, and the position has been vacant ever since.

The position of auditor is a vital one because that person is the mayor and commission’s eyes and ears on government departments. In Athens’ system of government, information flows through the manager’s office. The auditor—like the manager, a charter officer hired and overseen by the mayor and commission—is independent from the manager and can advise the mayor and commission on structural changes that should be made.

Another reason the auditor is important is because that person is expected to hire a “monitor” who will work with the Public Safety Civilian Oversight Board to investigate complaints against police. Members of PSCOB have been lobbying to hire the monitor themselves, or at least have input into who is hired, but Girtz and commissioners appear to be leaning toward placing that position in the auditor’s office.

Jeff Montgomery/ACCUG Marcy Jolles

In addition, Girtz also recommended Marcy Jolles to serve as the county’s new Municipal Court judge, replacing Ryan Hope, who was appointed to State Court. Jolles, a staff attorney for Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens, previously worked as a senior assistant solicitor and as a public defender and in private practice at the law firms Cowsert Heath and Silver & Archibald. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from UGA.

“Marcy’s deep knowledge of law and her breadth of practice in the courtroom are the ideal combination for service as our Municipal Court judge,” Girtz said. 

Both recommendations will be up for ratification by the commission at its June 6 meeting. If approved, Hassemer and Jolles will serve two-year terms.

In other courthouse news, Clerk of Superior and State Courts Bevery Logan is retiring effective May 31 after 30 years. A special election will be held to fill the remainder of her term. In the meantime, Probate Court Judge Susan Schaffer appointed ACC Court Administrator Eliza Zarate as Logan’s interim replacement.