Florida Keys News
Saturday, May 3, 2014
City clerk gets another glowing review

City Clerk Cheri Smith, the official records keeper of Key West since 1999, is receiving high praise from city commissioners in her yearly evaluation.

Again.

"Cheri and her staff have set a standard of performance excellence," wrote City Commissioner Clayton Lopez. "A pleasure to work with."

Like City Manager Bob Vitas and City Attorney Shawn Smith, Cheri Smith is hired by and reports to the seven commissioners, each of whom is essentially a separate boss.

Smith, who started with the city in 1993 and now earns $95,843 as one of the city's top managers, considers her job a perfect fit.

"I love it," Smith said Friday from her office at Habana Plaza. "I'm very fortunate. At this point in my tenure, it's so wonderful to get along with all of the commissioners."

For 2014, the commission handed her a 4.46 score out of 5, with the highest marks given in the categories of public relations, personal traits, and relationship with the mayor and commissioners.

Smith's 2013 evaluation average was 4.57.

The six-page evaluation form asks each commissioner and Mayor Craig Cates to rate the clerk's performance in 10 areas through several questions in each category. Each question is answered by a score of 1 to 5 -- a 3 meaning "meets standards," a 4 for "exceeds standards" and a 5 for "outstanding."

Smith received all 4s and 5s except for a single 3 from Commissioner Billy Wardlow in reference to the question of whether she delegates responsibility to subordinates.

It was still a glowing review, as Wardlow called the clerk's office a model for city hall:

"I like the teamwork that comes from the clerk's office and I would like to see it passed on to other" departments, he wrote.

Smith has a staff of three which is responsible for compiling all agendas and recording the minutes of all city meetings.

Lately, city commissioners have staged a couple of four-hour meetings at Old City Hall as the divisive noise ordinance was approved during some lengthy and high-volume debates.

Smith is a stickler for keeping the meetings on time and in order. Several times during the noise ordinance meetings, she told audience members to be quiet and stop applauding, as she and her staff had the task of keeping up with the slew of amendments commissioners were voting on.

Commissioner Mark Rossi simply checked off 4s and 5s to the questions without adding any comments, while Commissioner Teri Johnston turned in a completely typed evaluation with thorough answers.

Commissioner Jimmy Weekley wrote, "She allows her employees to grow and develop their skills, which helps to maintain the professionalism in the city clerk's office."

Cates, Lopez, Wardlow and Yaniz jotted down some specific comments on their forms.

"She is a team player for the citizens of Key West," Cates wrote.

Born and raised in Midland, Texas, Smith was an only child to a father who sold used cars, and a mother who worked as a cook offshore on oil rigs.

The family moved to Morgan City, La., when Smith was a teen and she graduated from the local high school.

Smith, 57, has called Key West home for 26 years, having moved here from Corpus Christi, Texas. Before joining the city, Smith worked at the Key West Chamber of Commerce and then the Truman Little White House museum.

Her daughter, Erin Smith, 37, works at a local restaurant and is married to musician Caffeine Carl.

Smith shares a high approval rating with City Attorney Shawn Smith, whose evaluation average this year was 1/100th of a point higher.

"I'm always behind Shawn," she said.

gfilosa@keysnews.com

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