Hilliard law director Tracy Bradford has decided to end her more than 14-year tenure with the city.
According to a Jan. 21 letter to Mayor Don Schonhardt, Bradford announced her resignation, effective Feb. 1.
“It is with a heavy heart but a clear focus on the future that I tender my resignation,” Bradford wrote.
Bradford has served as Hilliard’s law director since 2004.
She wrote that “it has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences that I’ve been blessed to have in my legal career.”
Schonhardt said although he received no advance notice of Bradford’s resignation, it was not a surprise to him to receive her resignation.
He said he received an email from Bradford at 11:59 a.m., indicating she was submitting her resignation, and it arrived minutes later.
“Given how things are in the city, it did not come as a surprise,” he said.
Last year, Heather H. Ernst, the former deputy director of the Hilliard Recreation and Parks Department, was sentenced to one year in prison for theft in office, and the city has a pending civil lawsuit against her.
In light of the Ernst case, City Council launched an investigation of the city's financial controls during the course of 2018.
In early 2018, City Council struggled to appoint a new council member and to name a president after the resignation of Joe Erb left the panel with six members and ensuing 3-3 deadlocks. Members also faced conflicting interpretations of the city charter for a remedy.
This year, the city will transition to a city-manager form of government as Schonhardt completes the final year of what will be his fourth and final term as the city’s last elected, full-time mayor.
Councilman Les Carrier said he also wasn’t surprised by Bradford’s resignation.
“She had an impossible task serving two differing groups,” said Carrier, referring to some council members who have been at odds with the administration on several issues.
Meanwhile, the mayor’s appointment of a law director, finance director and part-time safety director requires council confirmation, Schonhardt said.
He said he would reach out to council President Albert Iosue to discuss potential successors.
“I don’t want to waste my time bringing someone they won’t confirm,” said Schonhardt, adding that contracting for a law director is not out of the question.
Iosue said Jan. 21 that he could not comment on a path forward but said Jan. 22 that council would discuss the vacancy Monday, Jan. 28.
Carrier said he would be “hesitant to support a permanent appointment” given the pending transition to a city manager.
Bradford’s annual salary is $137,860, according to human-resources director Julia Baxter. The value of her benefits is approximately 37 percent of her salary, according to finance director David Delande. According to ThisWeek’s calculations, that figure would be about $51,000.
Check ThisWeekNEWS.com/Hilliard for updates to this story.