Ferndale hires in-house for city manager position

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published May 7, 2019

 Pending contract negotiations, interim City Manager Joe Gacioch, seen here in February at the groundbreaking for the mixed-use parking structure known as “The dot,” will be Ferndale’s permanent city manager.

Pending contract negotiations, interim City Manager Joe Gacioch, seen here in February at the groundbreaking for the mixed-use parking structure known as “The dot,” will be Ferndale’s permanent city manager.

Photo by Mike Koury

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FERNDALE — The city of Ferndale is looking to one of its own to lead the way as city manager.

Pending contract negotiations, Ferndale announced that Joe Gacioch will be the new city manager. He’s been acting as the interim city manager since the departure of April Lynch at the end of February.

Gacioch, previously the city’s assistant city manager, said he was very appreciative of being named the permanent city manager.

“I’ve been with the city for seven years, and I feel I’ve built a good relationship with the community and a good understanding of the community, of their values and their goals,” he said. “The opportunity to step up and assume a greater leadership position … with a community like this, you’re just appreciative of the opportunity to continue. This community really is unique.”

Gacioch came to Ferndale in 2012 and served as project manager before being appointed as chief innovation officer in 2013. He later was named assistant city manager in 2015.

After Lynch left the city in February to work at the University of Detroit Mercy, Gacioch was named interim city manager. He said it was good to get the support of the city with the hiring after serving for the last couple of months.

Gacioch said that one of the things he brings to the job is the insight and benefit of being in a city manager’s office in graduated roles over the last seven years. So, for him, it felt like a natural move into the full-time position.

“The one thing that my predecessor, April, and I both worked at is really elevating Ferndale’s reputation, both within the region, the state and nationally,” he said. “I would’ve expected the process to be competitive because a lot of people want to be here and want to work here. It feels great to be supported like that.”

After hiring a recruiting firm to bring in résumés for the open position, the City Council met with GovHR April 22 to identify the strongest candidates.

Mayor Dave Coulter said the council later decided, on April 30, that Gacioch was the right person for the job. Something that sold Coulter on this was watching Gacioch lead the staff on his own.

“You don’t know how someone’s going to do that until they have the opportunity, but Joe was solid,” he said. “He has a solid knowledge of our community and of the strategic plan that council wants him to pursue. The other thing he has is really solid project management skills. That was exemplified during the construction of (the Development on Troy) project, which was Joe’s leadership almost exclusively. The combination of all those things made us realize we already had our person.”

Coulter said the city was sincere in its desire to see what other candidates were out there and how Gacioch compared to them.

“It was really a process over the last several months watching Joe in that role take on some challenging projects and seeing how the staff responded to him, and seeing the other candidates — who were outstanding, by the way — but Joe was at the top of all of our lists.”

The City Council is looking to approve a contract with Gacioch at its May 13 meeting. After that, the new city manager will look to navigate development, affordability and mobility in his first year.

“A lot of things that come with the resurgence of the Detroit region,” he said. “How we navigate that change and steer though that change and honor the community values and the community’s goals on balance with new opportunities, I think, is going to be critical.”

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