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Ishpeming manager interviews

City council considers candidates

January 12, 2010
By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau

ISHPEMING - Four candidates remain in the search for a new Ishpeming city manager following a day of interviews with the city council members.

Current Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard is one of the candidates, joined by candidates from downstate, Wisconsin and Florida. A fifth candidate dropped out of the interview process.

"I think we interviewed four quality candidates for this position," said interim City Manager Jim Bjorne. "They brough a lot of diversity to the interviews."

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Council members interviewed each of the candidates separately, asking about their management styles and past experience with everything from economic development to streets to working with unions.

Girard has been living in the Marquette area for the past 42 years and has been working in local government since 1981, working for the township since 2002.

"My management style is hands on, but it's a modified hands on," he said. "I believe the departments heads are just that, and I let them do their jobs.

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"I take an open approach. My door is always open, whether it be staff or whether it be residents. That's who you're here to serve."

The council also asked about experiences dealing with the public, especially after controversy this year surrounding a Marquette Township water project.

"I'm not political. That's not my job," he said. "My job is to do what the majority of the board tells me to do."

The council also asked about bringing economic development to the community, especially regarding the Downtown Development Authority. Girard expressed interest in going over the city's master plan.

"I think probably my biggest strength is my ability to look out three or five years and make some projections on what might be happening," he said.

Another candidate is the former manager of Oshkosh, Wis., Richard Wollangk. Wollangk was manager of Oshkosh for 10 years before retiring, and has lived all his life in the Oshkosh area. He also served as a member of the city council before becoming manager.

"I really enjoyed the public sector work, being city manager, and started looking for a new position," Wollangk said.

Wollangk described himself as a people person, ready to work with city department heads and other staff members.

"My management style is very participatory, as I say. I like to look at it as a team," he said.

Budget issues within the state of Michigan and local communities was also a point of discussion during the interviews, especially with two of the candidates coming from other states.

"The state of Michigan, probably more so than other states because of the auto industry, has been hurt tremendously by the economic recession," Wollangk said. "I don't think most states have been immune to it. When I was city manager in Oshkosh, we had been faced with a lot of those cutbacks on state aid to cities.

"I am familiar with cutbacks. I am familiar with having to deal with budgets where there's less money."

Coming from downstate Bath Township is Shane Bolley, who has been superintendent there for the past 10 years. Bolley is a retired police officer and a licensed attorney, who has also worked as a consultant for municipalities.

The fourth candidate is Jered Ottenwess, who has been city manager of Trenton, Fla., since 2005. Trenton is a city of about 1,700 people. Ottenwess is originally from Michigan, and has a master's degree in urban planning.

The council and city department heads who sat in on the interviews have been asked to rank each of the candidates. Those rankings will be compiled and discussed at a special council meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday.



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