Utica fills vacancy left by late mayor pro tem

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 28, 2015

 Frank Czapski

Frank Czapski

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UTICA — At the July 14 Utica City Council meeting, Mayor Jacqueline Noonan appointed, and the council unanimously approved, a 12-year resident to fill the vacancy left on council by the late Mayor Pro Tem Russell Barthelmeh.

Barthelmeh, 70, died May 6 after a battle with adrenal cancer. Frank Czapski, 40, will be sworn in to join the other council members at the Aug. 11 meeting. Czapski, associate principal of Southfield-Lathrup High School, will finish Barthelmeh’s term which ends in 2018.

“We allowed a couple of weeks of grieving time, and, at our June council meeting, declared a vacancy in council,” Noonan said. “Under our charter, the mayor makes an oral appointment, as long as it’s done within 90 days of a vacancy being declared.”

Noonan said that at the June council meeting she appointed, and council unanimously approved, Councilman Kenneth Sikora to serve as mayor pro tem.

She said the city advertised the open council position and accepted letters of intent and résumés for about a month. On July 7, Noonan conduced interviews with five candidates and invited council members to observe and share input.

Council members Sikora, William Osladil, Barbara Montag and Faith Terenzi attended the interviews. Each council member listed a different candidate as his or her No. 1 choice.

“I think that speaks highly of the people that came and were interviewed,” Osladil said at the July 14 meeting. “I hope that we communicate to those people that were willing to serve that we congratulate them.”

The choice, Noonan said, was difficult, and she looked carefully at the interview notes provided by council members before making a selection.

She said Czapski scored highly on everyone’s list, which confirmed her choice, and that she had every confidence he would do a good job and serve the city for the remainder of the term.

“I believe he had an extremely impressive résumé, and his responses to the questions gave me confidence that he’s familiar with some state and government issues about taxation, our charter and the problems that local government encounters, as well as the need to be responsive and contemplative when making decisions,” she said.

Czapski branded himself as a servant leader. He has served the Southfield Public Schools district for 17 years, currently as associate principal of Southfield-Lathrup High School and president of the Southfield Association of School Administrators union.

Czapski, whose nickname is “Chop,” said the biggest thing his father told him was to take any opportunity he could to make an impact and improve the community. Growing up on the east side of Detroit, he said his community molded and shaped who he was.

Although he doesn’t have prior experience in government, Czapski said he is looking forward to accepting knowledge and guidance from the rest of the council.

“I don’t think you can get a better person than Mayor Jackie Noonan to serve under,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with that vibrant team. I’m motivated, I’m excited, and I’m very humbled to have this opportunity.”

Czapski was on a full football scholarship at Eastern Michigan University from 1993-1998 and has a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a minor in health education K-12. He also has a master’s degree in education leadership from Wayne State University, and he currently is pursuing an education specialist degree from Central Michigan University.

In his free time, Czapski said he enjoys camping and traveling with his wife and children. He also enjoys weight training, swimming, biking, golfing and an occasional pickup basketball game.

“I look forward to serving the citizens of the city of Utica in this new capacity on City Council,” he said.

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