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Ishpeming city manager search continues

ISHPEMING –The Ishpeming City Council on July 2 will conduct three more interviews to fill its city manager position.

The pool of candidates was narrowed from four to three, as the result of four split votes during the council’s special meeting Monday.

The council voted on June 5 to hire Jon Kangas, a former Ishpeming Department of Public Works director and current Chocolay Township manager, but Kangas has since accepted a position in Marquette Township as its superintendent of public works.

Kangas was one of three candidates interviewed by the council at a special meeting May 29. The other two candidates interviewed then were Sean Hobbins, who currently works as a management analyst for the city of Marquette, and former Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, City Manager Kelli Truver.

Ishpeming Mayor Karl Lehmann said the search for a city manager should go forward, but voiced concern about two of the candidates chosen for interviews during Monday’s meeting.

“Obviously, based on recent developments, we are sort of back to the drawing board,” Lehmann said. “We do have two viable candidates that we have already interviewed (on May 29). In your packet, you have four that were the only four that were deemed qualified as far as the minimum requirements are concerned. I think there are one or two, in my mind, that I would be happy if we did not interview and a couple that I would be excited to interview.”

Pat Scanlon, who has been a vocal proponent of allowing the interview process to play out, said the council should have the opportunity to interview all four of the current candidates for the position.

“We are going down a bad path here. We’ve got four people that went through months of interviews. Why don’t we interview the four?” Scanlon said. “We went through a couple of interviews (on May 29) and we had this miraculous (idea) — which I was going to leave behind us — this immaculate conception-type thing, and boom, we are going to hire a city manager. It was BS then and it’s BS now.”

Only four of the five councilors voted on the issue, as Councilor Mike Tonkin was excused early from the meeting due to a prior commitment.

The council approved moving forward with two of the four candidates in a 3-1 vote.

A motion to exclude the third applicant from the interview process failed since it ended in a tie, according to procedural rules adopted by the council.

The three individuals to be offered an interview are Harry Staven of Richland, Washington; Fred Ventresco of Sandisfield, Massachusetts; and John Ardaugh of Manhattan, Illinois.

Lehmann also asked city staff to contact Hobbins and Truver to determine if they are still interested in the position.

Former City Manager Mark Slown stepped down on June 5 after serving over five years.

Finance Director Jim Lampman has been appointed as the interim city manager until a replacement can be found.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal .net.