Council votes to begin search for new City Manager

Councilmembers Melissa Young, Cheryl Scales, Mayor Steve Jazwiec, Jerry Coon and Terry Konkle deliberate about beginning the search for a new city manager.

By BETH ALTENA

The audience and members of Rockford’s City Council applauded Interim City Manager Chief Dave Jones and Deputy City Manager Chris Bedford for their service over the past year covering city business in the absence of the late City Manager Michael Young. The board then talked about beginning the process of replacing Young and awarding the contract for the search to the Michigan Municipal League—of which Young had been Chairman. A budget of $20,000 has been earmarked for the search.

It was during the regular, January 12 council meeting that the audience and council talked about beginning the search. Several members of the audience offered their thoughts on the topic. Meg Franz of Bow Dacious Designs urged council to conduct a nationwide search. She also recommended someone with municipal management experience.

“We have very diverse opinions in our community. I don’t think we should be a training ground for someone without experience.” She said if there is going to be a committee formed for the search, she would like to be on it.

Lynn McIntosh spoke next, questioning whether the City should use $300,000 as their part of money for the final section of riverfront boardwalk—in conjunction with grant money—for that purpose. She also wanted to know how much the City spent on the lawsuit filed by the Creative Arts Center Rockford.

Ken Phillips reminded Council that last year’s Town Hall meeting included discussion of whether the current makeup of City Council was the best. “There seems to be a pretty big difference between Precinct One and Precinct Two.”

Dale Goosen also urged the City to conduct a national search for a new manager. “That’s the way to do it best. I’ve heard about doing things the Rockford way, it’s been used too much.” He said he used to be a coach and he didn’t mind losing, but he did mind losing to a cheater.

“I suggest we not meet with the Michigan Municipal League until after January 27 for symbolic reasons,” said Mayor Steve Jazwiec.

Former Mayor Jerry Coon commented, “I spent a fair amount of time talking to the MML. They are the preeminent people do deal with this and where we need to be.”

Terry Konkle stated, “I think it’s time for us to make our move.”

Melissa Young stated she also believes it is time for Rockford to begin the search.

“I agree. I think we decided a year is long enough to have interim manager. We are a unified team.”

Mayor Jazwiec suggested one or two people from council get information to create a profile for the search. “We have to come up with a date staff, council can all meet with MML for several hours. We also need a contact person on staff, usually it is the city clerk.”

There was discussion about meeting with MML to go over details of the search, and if everyone is satisfied with the process, to go ahead with the contract.