Berkley narrows city manager candidate pool to four

Community will have opportunity to meet candidates this week

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published February 17, 2016

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BERKLEY — It’s been more than four months since Jane Bais-DiSessa resigned from her position as Berkley city manager to become deputy mayor in Pontiac. This week, the City Council is hoping to get a clearer picture of who will succeed her.

The city entered into an agreement with the Michigan Municipal League in October of last year to help with the search. The council also appointed a subcommittee made up of council members Dan Terbrack, Steve Baker and Jack Blanchard to help in the search.

After talking with several administrators and people in the community, officials have whittled down the potential candidate list to four.

Residents will have a chance to meet the candidates Feb. 19 before council hosts its official interviews during a special meeting Feb. 20.

“All seven members of council don’t have (all the) wisdom, and we want the community to approach this from their own perspective to give us advice,” Mayor Phil O’Dwyer said. “They will have the opportunity to mix with the four candidates and give their impression on which one of the four would fit the Berkley situation and be what we are looking for.”

The candidates include one current Michigan resident and two others who have experience in Michigan. Matthew Baumgarten is the current city administrator of Lathrup Village, a community he has worked in since 2008. He earned his master’s degree in public administration from Oakland University.

Elke Doom graduated from Siena Heights University with a master’s of public administration and worked as township supervisor in Huron Charter Township before her current position as city manager in Princeton, West Virginia.

Vince Pastue was the city manager of Farmington for 13 years before becoming city manager of Mount Dora, Florida. He also has worked for Isabella County and the cities of Clare and Belding.

The final candidate, Tom Boland, has worked as city manager of Steubenville, Ohio, as city administrator of Pataskala, Ohio, and as development director for Delaware County, Ohio.

With 35 candidates in total applying for the position, O’Dwyer said city officials expected to get non-Michigan residents applying, and they just want who is best for Berkley.

“It is a national search, and we had about 35 applicants from Michigan and around the country,” he said. “Our task is going to be to select from what we see with the interviews.”

By working with the MML, the city was able to conduct an in-depth application process, O’Dwyer said.

MML Program Coordinator Jessica Reed said the organization helps municipalities around the state fill positions and works with municipalities from the beginning of the search process through the end.

“We provide a facilitator to the community, who oversees the process from start to finish, and we are there every single step of the way,” Reed said. “We sit down with community members and members of staff and council members to talk about how they want to present the community in this search, and we do advertising, videos, press releases and collect all the résumés and do the screening.”

The open house will take place 6-8 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Berkley Community Center, 2400 Robina Ave. The interview process is open to the public and will begin at 10 a.m. Feb 20 at City Hall, 3338 Coolidge Highway.

O’Dwyer said the council will combine the information from the interviews with input from the community and department heads to make a decision. As to when the decision may be made, he said it would depend on if everyone agrees on one candidate or if they need to have further discussions following the interviews.

“We have a terrific team of department directors, so what we need is a coach to continue the successful, progressive work of the city up to now,” he said. “We are hoping this process will lead us to a manager that fits the needs at this time in the city, which is someone who is personable, progressive and experienced.”

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