Just hours before a public forum to meet candidates for Austin's new Chief Animal Services Officer, the city announced Abigail Smith was dropping out of the race. Today, the city says Smith is back in.
Smith dropped out because her father was critically ill. She notified the city of her tenuous situation during interviews in November. After her father died, the city requested that she reconsider entering the race.
Some stakeholders had expressed interest in convincing her to come back, Animal Services spokesperson Patricia Fraga told KUT News. But she says that wasn't the only consideration.
"She is a qualified applicant with the experience that the city was looking for," Fraga said.
But at least one of those stakeholders says she was dissatisfied with the other four candidates.
"I did write a letter to [Austin City Manager] Marc Ott and asked him to reopen the search," ASPCA Community Resource Development Director Karen Medicus said in a phone interview. "At that point I didn't know that Abigail had been offered the opportunity to be included."
"I have not met Abigail, so I don't know if she is the right fit, but I think the city needs to keep the position open until we find the right person to fill those shoes," Medicus said.
Smith is executive director of the Tompkins County SPCA in Ithica, NY. She's the only candidate with experience running a "No Kill" shelter, although her shelter takes in less than one-tenth of the number of animals as Town Lake Animal Center. You can see their intake numbers here and Town Lake's here.
Abigail Smith will attend a public meet-and-greet from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 14 at the Palmer Events Center, Meeting Rooms 1 and 2, 900 Barton Springs Road.