MANISTEE — The citizens of Manistee will have the chance to interact next week with the candidates chosen by the Manistee City Council for the position of city manager.
At 6 p.m. on Aug. 10 at the Blue Fish Kitchen and Bar, a “Meet the Candidates” reception will take place, and at 7:30 p.m., a public meeting between citizens and council members will take place where citizens will have the chance to voice their opinions on the candidates. Each candidate will also be given a tour of the city by a city department head on Monday afternoon.
At 9 a.m. on Aug. 11, interviews of the candidates will begin at the council chambers at Manistee City Hall in Manistee.
Initially choosing six candidates during the council meeting last week, interim city manager Ben Bifoss said one candidate removed themselves from contention, narrowing the list down to five.
The chosen candidates are:
Timothy Wolff, village manager of Lake Isabella
Ryan Heise, director of operations of Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Anton Graff, city administrator of Wilmington, Ill.
Patrick Jordan, assistant city manager in Unalaska, Alaska
Kevin Bookout, executive vice president of St. Louis-based company Interim Solutions and former city manager of Ellisville, Mo.
Mayor pro tem James Smith the candidates are exceptionally qualified for the position.
“They have a varied range of experiences; some of them have been city managers for a long time and some for a short period of time,” Smith said. “I’m pretty confident that we’re getting a well-rounded group of individuals that are qualified for the job and are interested in coming to Manistee.”
Council member Mark Wittlieff said the candidates collectively meet the city’s needs for a city manager.
“I think as a council we’re all pleased with the amount of candidates that came to us,” Wittlieff said.
Michigan Municipal League (MML) facilitator Kathie Grinzinger was hired in April to conduct the search for a city manager for the city; 39 candidates applied for the position.
More on the candidates:
Timothy Wolff has been the village manager of Lake Isabella since 2004. In this position, he prepares and administers the village’s budget and capital improvement plan, among other things. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Alma College and is enrolled in a Master of Science program at Central Michigan University.
Ryan Heise, director of operations of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., has been in this position since 2007. He proposes and implements a $10 million budget. Heise has over 16 years of combined management and educational experiences in community planning, development and maintenance, according to his resume. He obtained a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of South Dakota in 2014 and a Bachelor of Science in General Studies from Western Michigan University.
Anton Graff has been city administrator of Wilmington, Ill. since January 2010. He has also worked as the interim chief of police in Morrison, Ill. and worked as the city manager in Rochelle, Ill. from October 2005 to May 2006. He obtained a Master of Arts in organizational leadership in 2014 from Lewis University and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal/Social Justice in 1997 from Lewis University.
Patrick Jordan, assistant city manager in Unalaska, Alaska, manages all human resource functions; risk management; housing and community grants programs. From Michigan, Jordan has served as Township Supervisor in Muskegon Township from June 2004 to August 2008; as an adjunct professor at Baker College and served as Deputy County Clerk Supervisor in Muskegon County from April 2000 to March 2004. He obtained a Master of Public Administration from Western Michigan University in 2000 and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1995 from Grand Valley State University.
Kevin Bookout, executive vice president of St. Louis-based company Interim Solutions and former city manager of Ellisville, Mo. He has also served as assistant city manager in Ellisville from October 2003 to November 2005. He received a Master of Art in Public Policy from Regent University in 1997 and a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Evangel University in 1989.
Council member Eric Gustad said the candidate process was vetted extensively with the MML prior to selecting the candidates last week.
“The MML’s been strong in their ability to vet out candidates and really did a good job of presenting not only the good sides of Manistee, but what are some of the challenges in Manistee?” Gustad said. “I think any candidates is going to come in with some wide, open eyes.”
He said the candidates are a good mix of people from different locations around the country.
“That interview process is going to be challenging, though,” Gustad said. “One day and five interviews and to get as much as you can answered in questions, and get a good feel and make that selection.”
He said if the council doesn’t agree completely on a candidate, the option should be available for follow up interviews and further questioning.
“If somebody jumps out and says ‘Everybody’s in agreement. This guy blew me away. This is the person that we want in Manistee’ and we’re all in agreement, that decision could be made on Tuesday,” Gustad said. “But I also think that’s a long shot to have 100 percent agreement in that and I think some dialogue based on our feelings is going to maybe lead to additional thoughts.”
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