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City of Ishpeming to request second interview from city manager candidate

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council would like city manager candidate Fred Ventresco to undergo a second interview for the position.

The council voted 4 to 1, directing interim city Manager Jim Lampman to contact Ventresco, who is currently the town manager of Sandisfield, Massachusetts, and request that he travel to Ishpeming for an in-person interview as soon as possible.

The city would pay for Ventresco’s travel expenses, which are expected to cost less than $2,000.

Mayor Karl Lehmann, in a separate action, appointed a sub-committee made up of Councilor Lindsay Bean and Councilor Pat Scanlon to work with Lampman to come up with a proposed salary range and benefits for the position.

Councilor Mike Tonkin said he felt Ventresco did very well in his initial interview which was conducted by phone on July 2.

“He came across with a lot of common sense for me,” Tonkin said. “He didn’t get rattled, we threw a lot of tough questions at him and he took it in stride, he didn’t hesitate and he was pretty clear about what was going on. He’s been there and done that. And I don’t think he is afraid of challenges either.”

Councilor Stu Skauge, who cast the sole nay vote in the decisions, Ventresco’s qualifications citing the Sandisfield population – which according to the city’s website is 830 year-round residents, a number that doubles during the summer months. Ishpeming is home to over 6,000 residents.

“He did not impress me as a person I would hire for this job, unless he’s the last one we can get,” Skauge said. “I think we should do something else. To me, none of (the candidates) are worth (paying the travel).”

Mayor Karl Lehmann disagreed with Skauge.

“I thought the man checked all the boxes, he had the education, he had the experience,” Lehmann said. “He has had 15 years as a village or town manager. When we talked about his leadership abilities, I was fine with it.”

Skauge moved that any city manager candidate undergo a background check completed by the Ishpeming Police Chief Steve Snowaert, which the council approved unanimously.

A motion to also bring former Sleepy Eye, Minnesota city manager Kelli Truver failed.

Scanlon, who made the motion to conduct a second interview with Truver, said in the interest of time both Truver and Ventresco should be interviewed in-person.

“If we are going to do one, I think she should have the opportunity as well. It’s a pretty minor expense. If we go back to the beginning of this whole rigamarole we said we don’t want to go with MML(Michigan Municipal League) and spend all that money, but that is where we are right now,” Scanlon said. “That, to me, is our next move. So if we are able to find somebody out of these two candidates, that would be fabulous. If not, I think we’ve got to spend some big money and turn this over to the MML. Because this obviously didn’t work really well.”

The city conducted intial interviews with a total of five candidates.

The city started actively searching for a new manager in May, after former city manager Mark Slown gave notice. Slown’s last day with the city was June 5.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.