Two candidates emerge as leaders in search for Ypsilanti's interim city manager
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
The Ypsilanti City Council will consider the former Grosse Pointe Woods’ city manger and a former state representative who has executive experience with municipalities and school districts for the interim city manager position.
Mark Wollenweber has 35 years experience as a city manager and held the position in Saint Claire Shores, Huntington Woods and Plymouth. He also recently served as interim city manager in Ferndale before former Ypsilanti Assistant City Manager April McGrath took over the full-time position there.
John Hansen served the 52nd District in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1999 to 2002, during which time he served on the Energy & Technology, Agriculture and K-12 Appropriations Committees.
He also served as superintendent of the Dexter Community Schools from 1984-1998, and was an interim superintendent in the Willow Run, Brighton and Adrian school districts. He served as interim city manager in Chelsea and Scio Township.
Departing City Manager Ed Koryzno is leaving the city for a job at the State Treasury Office.
Assistant City Manager David Kowall said Wollenweber was the best candidate among nine available through the Michigan Municipal League because he was the only one with extensive experience, a willingness to work full time and who lives relatively close to Ypsilanti.
“This is the one candidate who really fits the bill,” Kowall said.
Mayor Paul Schreiber and Council Member Dan Vogt already talked with Wollenweber and said he seemed like a good fit.
“I think right now he’s got a lot of qualities we are looking for, though I’m not ruling out any other candidates,” Schreiber said.
Council Member Brian Robb and Lois Richardson said they wanted council to have as many people to choose from as possible.
Robb said Hansen could be a good candidate because he is local and has a wide range of experience in an administrative capacity.
"He's another name, another person to talk to, and he's local," Robb said. "We just need somebody here who is actually going to get things done."
Council members have expressed a desire to seek someone who only wants to hold the position temporarily until a permanent replacement is found. Council must now hold a special meeting to meet with Wollenweber and Hansen and any other candidates who might be interested in the position.
The chosen candidate would start after Koryzno’s last day on Jan. 20, and it isn’t yet known how long the process for selecting a permanent candidate might take.
The MML fees for finding a permanent and temporary candidate can fluctuate, but is usually 10 percent of the midpoint of the listed salary range.
Koryzno’s salary is $98,000. Wollenweber was paid based on an annual salary of $105,000 in Ferndale.
Council can also decide to utilize the services of a private agency in searching for a permanent candidate, though Kowall said that could cost upward of $35,000. He added that agencies often draw from the same sources as the MML.
"I cant think of any legitimate reason, given our financial constraints, on how we justify spend 2-3 times more for a search," he said.
At his new post with the state, Koryzno will advise financially distressed communities on how to avoid takeover by an emergency manager, though he underscored that he will not be an emergency manager.
He accepted a two-year contract extension in March and said at the time that he intended to stay in Ypsilanti to help see it through a rough financial time. On Oct. 18, he said the opportunity to work with the state presented itself after he signed the extension and added that the city’s financial picture had nothing to do with his departure.
The changes come as the city contends with eliminating a $10.69 million deficit.