Mayor’s Office aide Jim Hester is set to move to the Metro Parks and Recreation Department as special assistant to the parks director beginning next week, The City Paper has learned.
Hester, a former operative for the Tennessee Democratic Party, first began working for Mayor Karl Dean as campaign manager in the 2007 mayoral election before serving as one of the mayor’s senior advisors over the last four years. Hester stayed in the Mayor’s Office this past election cycle rather than shifting to the mayor’s re-election efforts.
Hester’s appointment to the position had been rumored for weeks. Mayor’s Office spokeswoman Bonna Johnson confirmed Hester’s job transition late Friday. She did not know his new salary.
“Jim is a dedicated public servant who has spent the past four years helping our city move forward,” Dean said in a statement.
“Like me, Jim shares my passion for our city’s park system and making Nashville a more livable and active city,” he added.
Hester, who also aided Dean’s political effort to defeat the 2009 English-only referendum, will begin his new parks position Tuesday.
Hester said he has pondered working for the parks department for a while, adding that he's always enjoyed participating in parks activities.
"One of my favorite leisure-time activities is parks — greenways, hiking," Hester said. "I've got two canoes. I go backpacking all the time.
"I think it's the best department in Metro to work for," he said. "They've got really good people over there, a great board and a great director. It's a good opportunity for me."
Interim Director Tommy Lynch, unavailable for comment Friday, currently manages the parks department. The parks board is in the process of conducting a search for a full-time director. Lynch has said he plans to apply.
Johnson said Hester’s responsibilities at the parks department would include overseeing special events, assisting with Metro’s open space plan and directing grant writing. She said Hester would assume other duties as they arise.
Johnson did not know whether Hester’s position is newly created.