Nacogdoches City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to bring on Jerry Baker as the new city attorney. (Baker is pictured left.)
Baker, who for the past few years has represented the Nacogdoches County Hospital District through the firm Holland & Knight LLP, will begin his new post on Aug. 14.
“It seemed like a good opportunity for a career perspective. This is my hometown and what a great way to serve it,” said Baker, who grew up in Douglass where his father was an educator. “It seemed like a natural step.”
The city attorney position will be full-time, and Baker will no longer represent the hospital district, he said Friday. The district’s contract is with Holland & Knight rather than Baker himself, so Travis Clardy or another attorney from the firm might continue to represent the hospital district.
Baker was among three finalists interviewed for the position, which was posted earlier this month.
“I’m glad it was done quickly and they found someone they are happy with,” interim city manager Keith Kiplinger said.
Baker graduated from Texas A&M University and the Texas Tech School of Law before beginning law practice in 2000.
“My plan is to provide the best legal counsel to the city,” he said.
Baker will succeed former City Attorney Steven Kirkland, who was terminated by a vote of city council on June 13.
“By charter the city attorney and city manager are the two direct employees of city council,” Kiplinger said. “They advertised the position and reviewed applications like any other position, and then interviewed three candidates.”
All three finalists were from Nacogdoches, Mayor Randy Johnson said, with Baker emerging as the strongest candidate. Councilwoman Kathleen Belanger on Tuesday made the motion to hire Baker. The vote was unanimous.
The hire fills one of several key vacancies, including the city manager. Like the city attorney position, the search for a new city manager is being conducted in house. More than 60 candidates have applied for that position, Johnson said, and the council hopes to have a finalist selected by the end of August.
“We are very fortunate to have some outstanding candidates,” Johnson said.
The city manager position has been open since February, with Kiplinger serving as interim. Also vacant is the position of city planner after the May resignation of Alaina Helton.
In addition, longtime Community Services Director Brian Bray is leaving the city July 28 after accepting the position of assistant city manager of Lufkin.
“We’ve had a lot of turnover,” Johnson said. “Only one of them was asked to leave, which was Kirkland.”