“Robin was our interim chief before we hired her as permanent chief,” Howerton said.”We did interview other candidates, but after that I appointed her as full time Fire Chief. We had an interview panel vote on the matter, and she was the unanimous choice. She was the best candidate for that position.
“Robin was a pioneer. Being a female in that business, and being small of stature could have been a draw back, but she was big in heart and very tenacious. When she put her mind to doing something it was going to get done. So, even though she was small in size, and even though she was a female, she overcame all of that and proved herself to be worthy – really, even beyond worthy – for the positions that she held in our department.
“From my perspective, and from those who served on the interview panel, I don’t think the fact that she was a woman ever came into play.
“We were not trying to make any kind of a statement –either on a personal, community or organizational level – about hiring a female (to be chief).
“In my opinion,” Howerton continued, “it was just Robin happened to be a woman, but the more important aspect was that she was an excellent firefighter and an excellent leader.
“She also had a proven track record in this department, in this community, and that was very important. Any time you hire anybody, it’s always a question of how are they going to do in that new position.
“It is a risk when you bring somebody in from the outside that may not be a part of the community. Robin certainly had the support of the people who worked with her. They respected her, they knew that she knew the business and that she was fair, so really it was just one of those kind of situations where she was just the natural choice.