Eastpointe hires public works director after 6-year vacancy

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 5, 2019

 After 29 years with the Detroit Department of Public Works, Jose Abraham began work as Eastpointe’s Department of Public Works director April 1.

After 29 years with the Detroit Department of Public Works, Jose Abraham began work as Eastpointe’s Department of Public Works director April 1.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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EASTPOINTE — The city of Eastpointe welcomed a new Department of Public Works director April 1 with the hiring of Jose Abraham, a 29-year veteran of the Detroit Public Works Department.

The hiring of a new public works director was welcome news to officials, as there had not been anyone in the position since 2013.

“It’s been about six years. We had a difficult time finding someone to fill the position,” said City Manager Joseph Sobota. “Essentially, the DPW was operating and conducting day-to-day tasks during all that time, but we weren’t getting that long-term perspective and planning. We appreciate the patience of residents over the past several years, but we believe the wait was well worth it.”

City officials stated it wasn’t abnormal to have difficulty finding a proper candidate for the position.

“It has taken a long time because of the required qualifications of that position,” Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley said. “Besides previous experience in that field, it also requires specific state certifications. If you look at the (Michigan Municipal League), you will always find a number of cities looking for candidates to fill that position.”

During Abraham’s 29 years with Detroit, he held the positions of deputy director of public works and general manager of public works. He believes he has the right experience to ensure that Eastpointe’s public works needs are met.

“I have brought in millions in federal and state grants to the city, and I would like to be able to do that to Eastpointe and improve the infrastructure here,” he said. “I also want to work to improve our streets, bridges, sidewalks and so on, and maintain our assets in a reasonable manner so our citizens can be happy about their city.”

Sobota said it was this experience that was the key factor in hiring Abraham.

“He definitely has the experience we need in public works. He also has some additional skills with a strong background in finances and grants,” Sobota said. “We hope he’ll be able to develop and implement a long-term plan from a capital projects standpoint that also brings in different sources of funding that are nontraditional for the city of Eastpointe.”

Abraham was hired at a salary of $92,400 a year, and he officially began his tenure April 1.

“Our biggest DPW-related challenges in Eastpointe right now are infrastructure and our fleet and equipment needs,” Sobota said.

Abraham said it is too early to state his specific goals for the position, but said he will do all he can to care for the needs of the city.

“I would like to have our infrastructure to be maintained within the best of our ability so we are giving residents a family-friendly city and making sure the community is safe and usable for people,” said Abraham. “I want to serve the city to provide the best service to citizens.”

He did say he plans on taking a comprehensive look at the state of the city.

“As far as my priorities coming into the job, I want to look at where we are in regard to our assets and our capital equipment, like vehicles, and see what we have versus their condition and prioritize what improvements we can make and determine in what order,” Abraham said. “I have to see where we are in relation to the conditions in the city, then I can come up with a plan for those improvements.”

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