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January 9, 2013

New city manager takes the helm

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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New city manager takes the helm
From left, Beth Tashnick, administrative aide to the city manager, Troy City Manager Brian Kischnick and Community Affairs Director Cindy Stewart work to fill Kischnick’s calendar of events for January.

City Manager Brian Kischnick, now officially on the job for more than a month, wasn’t looking for another job when the spot in Troy opened up.

He served as city manager of Tittabawassee Township, near Midland, for 10 years and as city manager in Vassar, Mich., for seven years. Kischnick earned a bachelor of arts in public administration from Michigan State University and a master of public administration from Western Michigan University. The Troy City Council unanimously selected him for the top spot in August.

“I was not looking at all,” he said. Going through the competitive interview process, Kischnick, who was one of six finalists the council interviewed last summer, said the draw was that Troy is so well-respected and well-known throughout the state. “It’s got the wow factor,” he said.

So when the opportunity arose, Kischnick said, “You say yes. Troy has such a positive reputation for local government, staff and community.”

He commutes from his home near Midland, where he and his wife, a teacher, and two children live. He plans to look for a home in Troy and move his family here when school is out for the summer.

“I want to be a straight shooter,” he said of his duties in Troy. “Our job is to go out there to see if we can help … and if not, be up front about it.”

“He’s a people person,” said Community Affairs Director Cindy Stewart, who served on the committee that worked with the search firm on the hiring process. “He’s very comfortable with people in social situations. His first day on the job (Nov. 27), he emceed the ground-breaking ceremony on the Troy transit center.

“I wanted someone comfortable with the media, residents, in front of cameras, at council meetings, but that was genuine and honest,” she said.

His strength, Kischnick said, is, “When I’m at work, I make an effort to stay positive.”

Identifying his goals, he said, will develop a process between the staff and the council to help people feel more comfortable with the budget and have knowledge of the finances and operations of the city, as well as being able to identify areas that could be improved.

Speaking to the divisiveness of the council and community, he said, “I don’t have any preconceived notions. I treat everybody the same and work for everyone.”

He said, during the interview process, that he always answers his phone. He said he learned that during his time working in Arkansas, where he worked for someone who later worked for President Bill Clinton.

“I had to reply to every phone call before I went home at night,” he said, which is something he will continue to try to do — “at least touch base.”

“I will do my best to stay and be part of the team and make a difference,” he said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.