Pelham City Council hires first city manager

PELHAM – The Pelham City Council unanimously approved the hire of Gretchen DiFante as the city’s first city manager at a meeting on Monday, July 11.

Gretchen DiFante

DiFante, an Alabama native, is currently the assistant city manager for the city of Batavia in New York. Per state law, DiFante’s contract with the city extends until the end of the City Council’s term in 2020.

By the time of DiFante’s target start date of Aug. 21, the length of her contract will be just over three years. Her annual salary is set at $136,000 and the contract includes a $500 per month car allowance and a relocation package.

The City Council interviewed two other finalists for the position – Shelby County native Patrick Bryant, city manager for the city of Talladega, and Kevin Cowper, assistant city manager for the city of Auburn.

During the final interview process, each candidate participated in a roundtable discussion with city department heads. Councilwoman Beth McMillan said feedback from the department heads was consistent with DiFante being the preferred candidate.

Councilman Maurice Mercer added that DiFante stood out among the candidates and Councilwoman Mildred Lanier said she thinks DiFante would do a good job as city manager and would work well with the mayor and department heads.

Council President Rick Hayes said DiFante stood out to him as being an excellent communicator and a detailed person who likes to dig in and find the best solution. He said she also brings extensive strategic planning experience, which will be a major asset for the city.

“She has a significant amount of corporate consulting and government experience, which is rare to find,” Hayes said.

From talking to her, Hayes said he could tell that she is a dynamic person who would bring passion to the job.

“That’s really important because our objective is not to be good, it’s to be great,” Hayes said.