BRANSON, Mo.- The City of Branson introduced Cathy Stepp as its City Administrator on October 3.

One city alderman told Ozarks First off-camera that they believe Stepp isn’t qualified for the job.

Stepp was selected and approved 4-3 by the Board of Aldermen to step into the role with an annual salary of over $154,000.

Stepp, along with Mayor Larry Milton, is responding to the criticism.

“I’ve had some critics share with me they’re concerned that Cathy doesn’t have any city administrator experience which is true,” Milton said. “Although she didn’t have a local experience, I believe the experience she does bring is going to help Branson get to the next level”.

Milton said a search firm helped narrow down a months-long search to ten finalists.

Ozarks First asked for a copy of the firm’s survey that scores each candidate but was denied citing personnel reasons.

“One of the ten applicants scored 12, which was the highest score, but we as a board felt it wasn’t going to be a good match for the city,” Milton said. “Cathy scored the second-highest score.”

Qualifications posted with the job description said candidates weren’t required to have any college degree but should have a master’s.

Stepp says her employment experience makes up for her high school diploma.

“My resume speaks for itself. I have managed much larger governments than the city of Branson. the largest one was the city or the state of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources,” she said.

Milton says there’s been criticism of the hiring process.

“My critics accuse me of trying to push Cathy through the process. In my opinion, Cathy was very qualified from the beginning. I think initially I was criticized for being narrow-minded.”

Stepp says the criticism is nothing new.

“I’m not a stranger to that. You know my life and my political background have certainly allowed me the opportunity to work with people that don’t always agree with you. I mean that’s the nature of these types of positions.”