Charlottesville City Council has officially appointed spokesman Brian Wheeler as interim clerk of council until the position can be permanently filled.
Wheeler replaces Paige Rice, whose last day with the city was Sept. 21. While Rice also held the title of chief of staff, Wheeler’s appointment does not carry that role.
Wheeler was hired in January to succeed former spokeswoman Miriam Dickler. He has been serving as interim clerk for a week.
Wheeler was hired with a salary of $98,000. He received a 3 percent raise along with all city employees in fiscal 2019, which started July 1. Wheeler said he also got a raise in late August and is now making $116,438.
Rice, who was paid $72,842 a year as clerk of council, was paid $98,328 as council chief of staff, a position she took in July.
Wheeler’s responsibilities with the new role are primarily limited to taking minutes at council meetings.
“As interim clerk, I’m just helping take notes,” he said.
Wheeler is a former executive director of the nonprofit news organization Charlottesville Tomorrow, which has a partnership with The Daily Progress. He is also former chief information officer for SNL Financial, which is now S&P Global Market Intelligence, and he served on the Albemarle County School Board from 2004 to 2010.
The city has posted the job on its website and is accepting applications through Oct. 15. The posting doesn’t indicate when the position will be filled. Wheeler said council wants to fill the position “as soon as possible.”
Mayor Nikuyah Walker has said the council will be looking internally and externally to fill Rice’s position.
Louis Schultz spoke on Wheeler’s appointment before council voted and said he had “great reservations” about his selection.
He said since Rice’s resignation, council has an opportunity to increase transparency.
“I don’t think that will happen with Mr. Wheeler in that role and I fear that appointment could become permanent,” Schultz said. “Stop taking my tax money to pay somebody to lie to me.”
Walker said Wheeler isn’t going to apply to be clerk permanently.