New Miami city clerk takes the dais

New Miami City Clerk Todd Hannon isn’t worried about maintaining order on the commission dais.

After all, he once helped enforce no-fly zones in Iraq.

Serving in the U.S. Navy prepared Hannon for City Hall in more ways than one. He learned to be disciplined, pay attention to detail and take ownership of his work, he said.

Hannon became Miami’s chief administrative officer last week. He replaced longtime clerk Priscilla A. Thompson, who retired in September after a 32-year career in City Hall.

Hannon, 41, isn’t your stereotypical military guy. He wears his long hair in a ponytail, carries a backpack to work, and surfs and snowboards in his spare time.

“It’s that West Coast mentality,” said Hannon, who lived in California before moving to Miami eight years ago. “I like to think you can be easy-going and still get things done.”

He has big plans for the office, including updating Miami’s electronic records systems and putting the historical archives online. He hopes the state will be willing to help out with the cost.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for the public to access our records,” he said. “We just have to do it smartly and make sure we get the best for our money.”

A native of northern Virginia, Hannon started at the naval training camp two weeks after graduating from high school. His reason for joining was simple: He wanted to see the world.

“I had never been out of the country before,” he said. “I was looking to do something adventurous.”

The Navy brought Hannon to Australia, Japan and Singapore. He specialized in “battlespace” management and over-the-horizon warfare. In 1992, he was stationed on the USS Ranger, an aircraft carrier that monitored Iranian air traffic in the Persian Gulf. He later helped protect humanitarian efforts in war-ravaged Somalia.

“It was a great education,” Hannon said. “Each decision I made had to be thought through thoroughly, and then communicated up the chain of command.”

When Hannon’s service ended, he enrolled in community college and then transferred to the University of California at Berkeley. After graduating with a degree in political science, he went worked for a state senator and ran political campaigns.

Hannon moved to South Florida in 2005, and was accepted into the University of Miami School of Law. But when he realized how much it would cost, he decided not to enroll. Instead, he took an entry-level job in the Miami city clerk’s office.

Thompson, the former clerk, said Hannon’s work ethic quickly distinguished him.

“I also noticed that he was very diplomatic,” Thompson said. “He was always able to rally the troops. That’s not something that you would normally find in someone as young as him.”

Hannon worked his way up, eventually becoming assistant city clerk in early 2011. He was responsible for overseeing records, legislation and more than 30 city boards, committees, trusts and agencies.

Last month, the City Commission voted 3-2 to make Hannon the next city clerk.

Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones said she voted for Hannon because she admires his “spirited leadership.”

“He’s a humble guy, but he’s a very focused guy,” she said. “Priscilla taught him really well.”

Hannon is still negotiating his new salary, he said. It will be “nowhere near” Thompson’s salary of $192,270 a year, he noted. He made $69,471 a year plus benefits as assistant city clerk.

Hannon’s duties will include including maintaining the official record, helping the public access legislative documents, working with lobbyists and overseeing city elections. He will also serve as parliamentarian during City Commission meetings — a challenging task when meetings get chaotic.

Commissioner Francis Suarez, who also voted for Hannon, believes he will be a calming presence on the dais.

“He is extremely well-prepared,” Suarez said. “He always seems to be one step ahead of you, anticipating your question.”

Hannon has no concerns about taking the hot seat.

“I’ve been on the dais for years,” he said. “This time, I’ll be the steward of the ship.”