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Schenectady fills 2 City Hall vacancies

Schenectady fills 2 City Hall vacancies

Positions come after wave of departures
Schenectady fills 2 City Hall vacancies
Schenectady City Hall.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

SCHENECTADY — Two key vacancies have been filled at City Hall, Mayor Gary McCarthy announced Monday.

Alex Sutherland and Christopher Lunn have taken over as the city’s new director of operations and chief building inspector, respectively. The positions went unfilled for months, part of a broader string of departures this year among high-level city employees.

Lunn, who has been working since Sept. 5, has more than 25 years of building, construction and general contractor experience. He most recently worked as a self-employed general contractor.

Before that, Lunn, who lives in Albany, worked for various development and construction companies in the Capital Region and on Long Island.

“Increasing homeownership and improving distressed properties is a top priority in the city, and I look forward to continuing those efforts,” Lunn said in a prepared statement.

He replaces former Building Inspector Eric Shilling, who died in February at age 51. Lunn inherits a codes department under scrutiny.

Days after Shilling’s death, the city received notice that it would be subject to an audit by the state Comptroller’s Office. The focus of the audit: the inspection of multiple-dwelling buildings.

In March, a code inspector was indicted for his role in the deadly 2015 fatal Jay Street apartment fire. He was promptly fired. Prosecutors maintain the inspector, Ken Tyree, failed to do his job and then lied to investigators after he inspected the faulty fire alarm system in the apartment the day before the blaze.

The codes department has also been subject to criticism from residents, who expressed concerns that the department may be understaffed and at times is unresponsive to complaints about dangerous or unsightly properties. 

Lunn will make $79,015, according to a news release. It is the same salary Shilling was set to make in 2017, according to the city budget.

Sutherland, who started Monday, worked most recently as a regional communications coordinator in the New York State Assembly’s Department of Communication and Information Services.

An Albany resident, Sutherland has also worked for the New York State Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and for Democratic Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy’s campaign.

Sutherland replaces former Director of Operations David Fronk, who left to take a similar job in Niskayuna. The director of operations comes with a variety of responsibilities, including planning, staffing, communications and other duties.

Sutherland’s salary will be $59,900, a decrease from the $68,844 Fronk was making before departing for Niskayuna.

Samanta Mykoo, previously a law department employee, started last week as the new deputy city clerk. Mykoo replaces Chad Putman, who left in July to take a job at New Choices Recovery Center.

The city is still seeking a new director of development after Jackie Mancini left in March for a job with Schenectady County. In recent interviews, multiple longtime employees cited the lag time between when a position was vacated and filled as a cause of frustration among some City Hall staffers.

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