SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — It’s been over two years since Savannah has had a permanent city manager. Over that time, the city has expended over $60,000 in taxpayer money to search for candidates.

Today, three finalists for the position underwent a series of questions from city leaders and community members regarding the Coastal Empire’s most pressing issues like gun violence, affordable housing and the poverty rate.

Jay Melder, Assistant City Administrator of Washington DC, Sheryl Long, Assistant City Manager of Cincinnati and Heath LLoyd, current Savannah Assistant City Manager are the three finalists.

Melder feels as though his experience in the nation’s capital will only help him serve the Hostess City. If chosen, he plans to be transparent with the people of Savannah and collaborative with other city leaders.

“You’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic but also like every other city in the nation you’re dealing with the pandemic of gun violence, and you have to treat it like a public health issue as well because it is a public health issue,” said Jay Melder, Assistant City Administrator of Washington DC.

Born and raised in Savannah, Lloyd knows the city inside and out. Starting out as a city worker and climbing his way up the ladder has provided him with a unique perspective as to how the city works, and how to best deal with the people of Savannah.

“As the Assistant City Manager I know I have the skillset, the education, and the abilities. You couple that with the perspectives of working through the organization internally, and you couple that with working in the community for 15 years, and those three things are why I am the best candidate for this position,” said Heath LLoyd, active Savannah Assistant City Manager.

Long also comes with a unique background. Being the only one of the three candidates that has actually served as a City Administrator, she feels as though her knowledge and experience would apply well in Savannah.

“I’m proven, I’m respected, I’m very objective in the way that I look at things. I’m vigilant, I’m efficient, and don’t forget i’m the only one that’s actually been a city administrator,” said Sheryl Long, Assistant City Manager of Cincinnati.

Just nine months ago, three candidates were chosen to participate in a similar panel as the one that went on today. However, city council was unable to reach a consensus or even a majority vote. Prompting former City Manager Michael Brown to take over in November as interim.

Mayor Van Johnson hopes that city council can come to a decision in the coming weeks as to who will serve as the next City Manager of Savannah.