Fields offered contract as new city attorney

JAMES BEATY | Staff photoMark Fields has been offered a contract as the new McAlester city attorney.

City councilors have offered McAlester attorney Mark Fields a contract to fill the city attorney's position, once it becomes vacant on July 1.

The offer followed a process that took several weeks. It included personal interviews with three applicants on May 13 and with another two applicants on May 18, both in executive sessions during special city council meetings.

City councilors voted unanimously to offer Fields the contract after they met in a closed executive session on Tuesday night following the council's regular meeting.

McAlester Mayor John Browne said negotiations with Fields are still needed, because pay for the position was not set during the application process.

"The offer will be to him, pending negotiations," said Browne.

Fields said Wednesday he's ready to continue with the process.

"I'm humbled and privileged to pursue this matter with the city and look forward to serving the community," said Fields.

Browne said he was impressed with all of the attorneys who applied for the post.

"We had five good candidates," Browne said. "Mark fit the needs of the city closer than the other four. It was very very close."

Also applying for the position were McAlester attorney Matthew Sheets, Wilburton attorney Nils Raunikar, former District 7 State Sen. Richard Lerblance, and Muskogee attorney and former Muskogee Mayor John Hammons.

During the personal interview process with the applicants, city council members who participated in both rounds of interviews were Mayor Browne, Ward 3 Councilor Steve Cox and Ward 5 Councilor Billy Jack Boatright.

Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith, Ward 2 Councilor Cully Stevens and Zach Prichard, Ward 6, each participated in one of the sessions held to interview applicants for the city attorney's position.

If an agreement is completed, Fields will fill the position currently filled by Joe Ervin of the Ervin & Ervin law firm. Browne said the hope is to get the new city attorney hired in time to work with Ervin before Ervin's term ends on June 30.

Ervin did not reapply for the position this year, but is staying on board as the city attorney until his current contract expires. Browne said the idea is for Ervin and Fields to get together before the end of the month to help with the transition period

"Hopefully we can get it done," said Browne

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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