Manassas Park swore in its interim revenue commissioner last week after a decision process complicated by legalities in which the City Council ultimately deferred its own right to recommend a candidate for the position.

The Prince William County Circuit Court tapped Debra D. Wood, 44, the former deputy revenue commissioner, to head the office she has worked in for almost eight years. The decision contrasted with the council's initial recommendation to appoint Yolanda Smith, an insurance claims representative who works in Reston.

After the death of former commissioner William Steele in May, the council exercised its capacity to recommend a candidate to the Circuit Court for the vacated spot, which must be filled until a special election in November. But conflicts arose over whether the body's secret vote was legal. In a second vote on June 22, at the suggestion of council member Douglas M. Parks, the council chose simply to forward the three applicants' names for the position without stating its own preference.

"It's just a natural thing," said Mayor Ernest L. Evans (R) of the judges' decision, noting that Wood had to take on most of the revenue commissioner's responsibilities anyway after Steele's death.

A week after she began her new job, Wood said she was settling in well. "It's nothing [majorly] different than what I've been doing for the last several years," said Wood, who was passed over in favor of Steele--and had to train him--when the person who held the spot before him retired in 1996. Wood added that she will run for revenue commissioner during the special election.