Fort Smith city prosecutor search down to two candidates

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,795 views 

The search for a new city of Fort Smith prosecutor is in the final stages with two attorneys from the Sebastian County Public Defender’s Office making it to the final round.

The mayor and city directors are invited to a luncheon for the candidates, Christina Scherrey and Matt Davis, at 12:30 p.m. Friday (Feb. 7) at the Fort Smith Police Department. Scherrey and Davis will participate in a panel interview earlier that day.

Scherrey has worked with the public defender’s office since January 2007. She served as the lead defense attorney with the Sebastian County Drug Court from 2015 to 2017. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.

Davis has been with the public defender’s office since December 2015. He worked with Daily & Woods law firm from 2006 to 2013 and Robertson, Beasley & Ford from 2013 to 2014. Prior to joining the public defender’s office, he was in private practice. He received his law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law.

The city prosecutor position was left open when John Settle, who served as the city’s prosecuting attorney for 11 years, died Oct. 26 after suffering a heart attack at a gym. Seven attorney’s applied for the position: Davis, Scherrey, Joshua Bugeja, Barry Neal, Patrick Flake, Joseph Self Natalie King and Lee Davis.

The city prosecutor is the last major city office to be filled following a rash of vacancies in the department head positions in 2019.

City Administrator Carl Geffken named Andrew Richards of Winslow the city’s new director of finance at Tuesday’s (Feb. 4) board of directors meetings. Victoria Runkle has been serving as the interim director of finance. Jennifer Walker resigned the position July 26 to take a job in Colorado.

Jerry Walters, who served as the city’s utilities director from April 3, 2016 to Aug. 27, 2019, was the fifth city department head to resign in 2019. Nathaniel Clark, the city’s first African American police chief, announced March 27, 2019, he was leaving the post for another police job in the Atlanta area. Clark stepped into the Fort Smith chief police job on Jan. 7, 2017. Wally Bailey, who had worked under six Fort Smith city administrators, retired in June as the city’s director of planning to become the director of planning for the City of Van Buren. And George Allen, director of streets and traffic control, resigned Aug. 13.

In December, Lance McAvoy was named the director of the utility department for the City of Fort Smith. He had served as interim director since Sept. 16. The city’s Department of Development Services, which Bailey oversaw, was split into two separate departments – the Department of Development Services, which includes Planning & Zoning and Community Development, and the Department of Building Services, which includes Building Safety and Neighborhood Services. Geffken announced that Maggie Rice was promoted to director of development services and Jimmie Deer was promoted to director of building services Sept. 27.

Danny Baker, who had served as the city’s interim police chief after Clark’s leave in April, was named the new police chief Sept. 27, following a nationwide search that yielded 28 applicants.

Matt Meeker was named the director of streets and traffic control Nov. 21. He had served as interim director since August.

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