The Winder City Council made the hiring of Mandi Cody as the new city administrator official last week, unanimously approving an employment agreement with her during a called meeting Thursday, June 11.

Cody, who has been the interim city administrator in Washington since December and was city manager of Metter for three years prior to that, was slated to start work with the city Thursday, June 18, Mayor David Maynard said last week. She will earn an annual base salary of $137,000 under the initial two-year agreement, which runs through June 2022 and will be set to automatically renew for 12-month terms after that.

Cody replaces former Winder administrator Donald Toms, who resigned in February. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Georgia Southern University and a law degree from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law. She practiced law for three years prior to her time in local government. She has been town administrator for the Town of Register in Bulloch County, a city planner and later director of planning and economic development for the City of Statesboro. She was Metter’s city administrator from 2016-2019. She resigned in July following lengthy service-delivery strategy negotiations with Candler County, and media reports in the area indicated the resignation was due to differences between her and council members. During her time as interim administrator in Washington, she has been assisting the city in SDS negotiations.

Cody, who was also a finalist for county administrator in Crisp County last fall and was also a finalist for the top administrative post in Georgetown County, S.C., earlier this year, emerged as one of three finalists for the vacant Winder position last month. After Toms’ resignation, a search committee consisting of Maynard and councilmen Sonny Morris and Chris Akins received 13 applications and narrowed that set down to six candidates who participated in phone interviews with the mayor, the two councilmen and city department heads.

From there, the field was whittled down to three finalists — Cody, Eric Taylor of Atlanta and Jay Johnson of Gulf Shores, Ala. — who were interviewed individually by the full council in closed session last month.

Maynard said after the interviews a consensus among the council formed around Cody.

“All three people we were interviewed were extremely competent and I would not have heartburn about working with any of them,” Maynard said. “Mandi just won the council over. She has a lot of energy and a lot of tools that I think are going to help us.”

“We had three good candidates; we really did,” councilman Jimmy Terrell added. “I didn’t have a real first choice going in, but after the interviews and meetings, I think we were all impressed with Mandi and the progression of her career as well. She brings to the table some attributes that I think we need — her experience in city administration, as an attorney, in economic development. I just think we made a wise choice.”

Councilwoman Holly Sheats agreed the decision on the hire was a difficult one but that Cody’s background was most suitable “for where we are as a city and need at this time.”

“She has a lot of energy. She’s at a point where her desire for professional growth will match up well with the issues we’re facing right now and where I think we need the most input and help,” Sheats said. “It was an enlightening process. I think we as a council all agreed that we learned something from each person we interviewed and that they all had a lot to offer.

“It just boiled down to her being the best fit, and I think it’s going to a be fresh start and fresh, new perspective for us. I feel very positive about it.”

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