There are more musical chairs happening on Rocky Anderson's staff, but this time it's on an upbeat note.
Jane Neilson, 45, the mayor's executive secretary who also served five years under Anderson's predecessor, Deedee Corradini, is leaving to take a job as executive administrator to the group president of ACS Inc. (Affiliated Computer Services) in Dallas.
Neilson will be replaced by Sally Jones, 37, who will have the new title of assistant to the mayor. Jones had worked since 1983 for the legal firm of Van Cott Bagley Cornwall & McCarthy, most recently as marketing director and human resources coordinator.
Tuesday is Neilson's last day and she emphasized, in contrast to some of the testy leave-takings among numerous staff changes of the Anderson regime, that her departure is mutually harmonious.
"We are not in a friction mode whatsoever. This honestly has nothing to do with my relationship with the mayor. This has everything to do with a personal move I feel is beneficial to me," said Neilson, a Detroit-area native who moved here eight years ago after working 19 years in San Jose, Calif.
Neilson formerly had worked with Lynn Blodgett, then president of the computer firm, Unibase, Sandy. Unibase was purchased two years ago by ACS Inc., and when Blodgett was named group president for ACS, he asked Neilson to rejoin him.
"I said, 'No, I can't, no I can't,' but then I thought, 'yes I can,' and I'm excited about working with Lynn again. Plus it's back to corporate, which I'll enjoy, and I believe I needed a change of venue at this time in my life," said Neilson, adding she will retain her Salt Lake home with her daughter, Sara, 18, beginning her freshman year at the University of Utah this year.
"I still feel strongly about this area and the job the mayor is doing. He's passionate about what he does and very intense, but I feel he's working very hard to make this the model city we all want," Neilson said.
Jones, 45, who grew up in Holladay and attended Olympus High School and Westminster College, said she was not deterred in taking her new position by the reports of rocky times at City Hall.
"I have heard the rumors, but I've met the mayor and talked to him on the phone a number of times. I think he's a great guy with a lot integrity and he's taking the city in a remarkable direction. I jumped at the opportunity to join that effort and help any way I can," said Jones, who has been working through a transition period with Neilson and will officially begin her duties July 25.
Deeda Seed, Anderson's chief of staff, said, "We're going to miss Jane because of her outstanding work, but we're excited about Sally coming on board. It's just that Jane got an offer she couldn't refuse and the guy she worked for snagged her back.
"This is not at all like some of the other staff departures. This is a completely cheerful thing."