Eastpointe hires new city manager

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 9, 2018




EASTPOINTE — The city of Eastpointe is welcoming its new city manager, Joseph M. Sobota, who has been hired after an involved candidate process.

The Eastpointe City Council approved Sobota’s contract at its regular meeting Oct. 2. The city has been considering different candidates since June, and officials said that the field was narrowed down to the best choice.

“He demonstrated really impressive knowledge of the city when he came in for the interview, and what set him apart was his financial background, and even though we are fiscally solvent right now, he can help us plan to remain that way while being able to reach our community goals,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michael Klinefelt.

His annual salary will be $117,500 ($4,519.23 paid biweekly) per year, and his contract will be valid through October 2020. He will officially start on Monday, Oct. 15, contingent on the results of physical, psychological and drug screenings.

“We are very excited to start with him,” said Klinefelt. “I believe we’ve chosen a very ethical, smart and financially prudent person who understands we have community goals, but will keep us on a sustainable path.”

Ryan Cotton has been serving as interim city manager since April. Cotton stepped in after the city’s last full-time city manager, Steve Duchane, retired from the position in August of 2017 and the city did not find a permanent city manager after its first search.

“I’ve had a lot of fun in Eastpointe,” said Cotton. “It’s a very cool town with lots of nice people. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the residents. It’s beautiful with lots of trees and green space. There’s always room for improvement, but I think it’s well-positioned to move forward.”

He applauded the selection of Sobota, as well as the city’s selection process.

“Mr. Sobota has a very deep resume and is highly skilled in all sizes of community, and is especially able to discern the facts of a matter and act accordingly,” Cotton said. “The process the City Council followed in deliberating the decision was a model example of collaborative reasoning, in my opinion.”

“My professional career began in Hamtramck in 1998, and I’ve worked in a variety of capacities since then in Hamtramck, Algonac and Pontiac,” said Sobota. “I left Pontiac in June of 2016 when local control was restored to the city. … It was my job to help work toward that goal, and I resigned when it was reached.”

Sobota said he is well-prepared for his new duties and thinks he has the experience necessary to improve the state of the city.

“I see some similarities in Eastpointe with my time in Hamtramck,” he said. “I believe my experiences will help Eastpointe meet its challenges. … “We currently have a structurally unbalanced budget and we have issues with unfunded pensions, so that is one thing I know we will be addressing.”

Sobota said he wants to get to know more about the city and the community before he makes any plans on what he wants to change or keep the same.

“I need to do a complete evaluation of policies, procedures and finances, and I will then address the City Council on their options,” he said. “I don’t have any plans on changes until I get more familiar with the city.”

He went on to say that he hopes for a strong and positive relationship with Eastpointe’s residents.

“I look forward to getting to know the needs and values of the community and finding ways to meet those values and needs,” Sobota said. “I look forward to working here. I am not coming into this job with any preconceptions or expectations, but I want people to know I will do my best.”