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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
<p>Deborah Bowie, 48, was chosen to be the interim Gainesville city manager. Courtesy to The Alligator.</p>

Deborah Bowie, 48, was chosen to be the interim Gainesville city manager. Courtesy to The Alligator.

The Gainesville City Commission chose a new interim city manager Thursday.

Former City Manager Anthony Lyons resigned Dec. 11 after a number of citizen complaints at a Dec. 8 commission meeting.

In a unanimous decision, Deborah Bowie, 48, was chosen for the position and the discussion of finding a permanent city manager was moved to the next commission meeting.

Bowie has been chief of staff to Lyons since May and also worked in high positions of local governments in Georgia and Alabama. 

“I am honestly honored,” Bowie said. “I want to latch on to the positives. Our team is always looking for the opportunity to work together.”

The interim position is expected to last six to nine months until the permanent manager is selected, Commissioner David Arreola told The Alligator.

Bowie said she is not interested in the permanent position.

In December and January, Bowie, Michelle Park and Steve Varvel applied for the interim position.

“I’m looking for a city manager that can stabilize and unify the city,” said Commissioner Gail Johnson about her vote for Bowie during the meeting.

The appointment was met with contestation from commissioners Helen Warren and Gigi Simmons. Simmons advocated for Park during the meeting.

“I’ve been in Gainesville my whole life,” Simmons said. “When you talk about morale, [Michelle Park] is respected.”

Evelyn Foxx, the president of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branch, spoke to the commission and said Bowie’s appointment will only further divide Gainesville because she does not have a history with the city.

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“The community is upset,” Foxx said to the commission. “We have people in the city who have been here for years that could step right in. It’s not helping the employee morale.”

Contact Kelly Hayes at khayes@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @kellyrhayes.

Deborah Bowie, 48, was chosen to be the interim Gainesville city manager. Courtesy to The Alligator.

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