Joseph Sabota announced that he will be leaving Eastpointe to seek other opportunities. He has served as city manager since October.

Joseph Sabota announced that he will be leaving Eastpointe to seek other opportunities. He has served as city manager since October.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Eastpointe bids farewell to city manager, welcomes new assistant city manager

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 9, 2019

 Brian Fairbrother was hired as Eastpointe’s assistant city manager and will serve alongside interim City Manager Ryan Cotton.

Brian Fairbrother was hired as Eastpointe’s assistant city manager and will serve alongside interim City Manager Ryan Cotton.

Photo provided by Brian Fairbrother


EASTPOINTE — The city of Eastpointe will once again be searching for someone to fill the position of city manager following Joseph Sabota’s announcement that he will be leaving the position.

“Opportunities arose that will give me the chance to explore some new opportunities,” said Sabota. “My last day is scheduled for July 5, but I will be coming back in for meetings until Aug. 2. ... The City Council will determine the new permanent city manager after I go.” 

Sabota began working as Eastpointe’s city manager in October. He declined to specify where he would be working following his leaving Eastpointe.

The announcement came just days before the city finalized its decision to hire a new assistant city manager, Brian Fairbrother; however, Fairbrother will take up the duties he was hired for while city manager duties will be done by Ryan Cotton, who will serve as interim city manager until a permanent replacement is decided upon. Cotton served as interim city manager prior to Sabota’s hiring.

“Administrations are always changing a little bit. I am thankful to Joseph Sabota and wish him luck in his future endeavors, of course,” said Fairbrother. “I think I will be able to do a lot of good and bring some stability to the city of Eastpointe.”

City officials will begin the search for a new, permanent city manager once Cotton is able to assist the City Council in finding and choosing new candidates.

“We will use the same group as before to find candidates and recruit someone,” said Mayor Suzanne Pixley. “We haven’t talked about a new city manager as a group and will talk about it more when Mr. Cotton gets here. We have no definite timeline at this time.”

Fairbrother began his work with Eastpointe officially on June 26 and will handle a variety of duties revolving around municipal management, procurement and administration.

“I also will serve as deputy city clerk in addition to assistant city manager,” said Fairbrother. “I worked as deputy city clerk for Shelby Township for several years and worked in public procurement for the state of Michigan Central Procurement Services and the Detroit Water and Sewer Department. … Additionally, I would like to thank the Eastpointe City Council for entrusting me to serve as its representative to the (South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority) Board. … Over the coming months, I look forward to working with interim City Manager Ryan Cotton to continue to make Eastpointe a family town.”

Among his other duties will be helping guide the city toward the adoption of ranked-choice voting in City Council elections.

“Myself and members of administration and the clerk’s staff decided to hire Mr. Fairbrother,” Sabota explained. “His election administration experience was a big factor, since we knew the settlement with the Department of Justice would be something he would have to address moving forward. He also had a strong background in purchasing, which is a key part of the position.”

Fairbrother said he hopes to focus on education in the run-up to the next election to ensure that the voting public understands the changes.

“A large part of what I want to do is voter awareness and education regarding the ranked-choice voting changes,” he explained. “My office will conduct a comprehensive educational program, which could include town halls to advertisements on social media and in newspapers to make sure people are aware of these changes.”

Fairbrother said he thinks there are many ways in which he can work to make Eastpointe a better place to live.

“I think Eastpointe has a lot of opportunities for improvement,” he said. “There’s a lot going on here, and I think I could do a lot for the residents and taxpayers of the city. There’s a lot of process improvements, such as improvements to the procurement process — which means purchasing goods and services for the city — information technology infrastructure and administering the next election and implementing the ranked-choice process in City Council elections.”

Sabota said there were a number of issues an assistant city manager would need to watch over, but he added that he was confident Cotton and Fairbrother would be able to handle such issues.

“I think there are several issues the City Manager’s Office will need to stay on top of moving forward,” Sabota said. “(This includes) keeping the city moving in a positive direction despite all of the long-term challenges on the horizon, such as the (other post-employment benefits) concerns, capital improvement needs, pension obligations and the implementation of ranked-choice voting during elections.”

Sabota expressed his belief that Fairbrother will go a long way in filling the gap that he leaves.

“I definitely wish the city the best of luck moving forward,” remarked Sabota. “I’ve seen the care and resilience of residents, and I’m confident that they will be able to meet the challenges of the future and remain a family-friendly town. I’m confident Mr. Fairbrother will be able to meet all challenges, and voters in Eastpointe can be assured the election will be well-administered.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.