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Search for new Marquette city manager continues Saturday with public interviews

MARQUETTE — The city of Marquette is one step closer to hiring a city manager.

The candidate pool was narrowed down to six applicants during a closed session at the April 12 Marquette City Commission meeting. The candidate who is ultimately hired will succeed current city manager Mike Angeli, who is set to retire on June 1.

The city hired Walsh Municipal Services LLC in February to conduct the nationwide search process. The Okemos-based firm had previously worked with neighboring Marquette Township on its search for a new manager last year.

According to Walsh Municipal Services President Frank Walsh, the city received 40 applicants for the position. Of those applicants, 28 were current managers for their local municipalities.

Mayor Jenna Smith said the search process has been going well.

“So far the process has been very smooth for us,” she said. “I appreciate our consultant’s work, our city staff’s involvement and the commission’s dedication to hiring our next city manager. Frank (Walsh) has led our search process as a hired consultant and has done a wonderful job. We had a good number of candidates apply and I am pleased with the results thus far.”

The six finalists include Richard Downey, village administrator for the village of Kronenwetter, Wisconsin; Sean Hobbins, assistant city manager for the city of Marquette; Karen Kovacs, city administrator for the city of Milan, Michigan; John Kramer, director of operations for the Fox Valley Park District in Aurora, Illinois; Gary Simpson, chief financial officer for the city of Marquette; and Dan Stoltman, town manager for the town of Kremmling, Colorado.

The city sent out an announcement on April 19 highlighting each candidate’s background ahead of the public interview phase set to take place on Saturday.

Downey has served as the village administrator for Kronenwetter since 2012 and previously served as a city administrator in both Illinois and Kansas. He’s a graduate of Central Michigan University, earning his masters of public administration, and Kent State University, holding a degree in political science.

Hobbins is a graduate of Northern Michigan University with a masters of public administration and a political science degree. Before becoming assistant city manager for the city of Marquette, he spent five years as the city’s management analyst. Before coming to Marquette, he served in a fellowship role with the city of Royal Oak.

Kovacs has been the city administrator of Milan since July 2019. Prior to stepping into that role, she spent almost four years as the finance director and treasurer for the city. Prior to that, she was a governmental accounting professional consultant for Plante & Moran PLLC. Kovacs graduated with an accounting degree and a minor in applied technology in business from Oakland University.

Kramer has worked as the director of operations for the Fox Valley Park District since 2016, and was previously employed by the Chicago Zoological Society and the city of Wood Dale, Illinois. He’s a graduate of NMU, as well as Aurora University in Illinois, where he earned his masters of business administration.

Simpson has served as the city of Marquette’s chief financial officer since 2000. He graduated from Winthrop University in South Carolina with a degree in business administration and is a certified public accountant in the state of Michigan. Simpson holds previous experience in municipal finance in East Lansing and South Haven, along with North Carolina and South Carolina.

Stoltman is a graduate of both Eastern Michigan and Oakland universities, earning his masters of public administration degree and a graduate certificate in public land planning from EMU and a political science degree from OU. He’s served as Kremmling’s town manager since 2019, and previously worked as the assistant city administrator and interim public works director in Washburn, Wisconsin.

The six candidates were based on a variety of traits and characteristics discussed by the commission, according to Smith.

“Each commissioner had unique points to consider, and I truly believe that’s what makes our conversations and our decision-making better,” she said. “The things I was looking for included relevant experience, someone who has a connection to Marquette or the Upper Peninsula, and a strong personal character.”

Asked if the soon-to-be selected applicant will see any overlap or shadowing with the outgoing Angeli, Smith it’s unclear as of now.

“Ideally it would be nice to have some overlap,” she said. “But it will depend on who we hire and what obligations they may need to tie up before starting in this new role.”

Each public interview will last approximately 1 hour and will be conducted in a special meeting beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The meeting will be held in city commission chambers at City Hall, and will be broadcast on Channel 191 and YouTube.

Due to the pandemic, the public will not be allowed to attend in person, but are encouraged to watch on TV or the internet.

The commission hopes to approve a new city manager contract at its May 10 meeting.

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