Did Hamtramck blow a chance to hire a highly-qualified city manager?
That’s been a matter of debate in city hall during the past few weeks, and it’s an issue that has sharply divided the city council.
Recently, the council interviewed a candidate for the job, Stephen Duchane, the former city manager for Sterling Heights and Eastpointe. He has 37 years of experience and boasts of many significant accomplishments.
But he was the only candidate that the city’s search firm recommended out of 38 people who applied for the job. Most of the people didn’t qualify for the job because of the stringent city charter qualifications.
Four councilmembers – a bare majority – decided they wanted to hold off from hiring a city manager until a change in the city charter is made. The council has been in agreement to reduce the qualifications for city manager, but that could take several months because it will also need voter approval.
Changing the charter, they said, will give the city more choices.
Two councilmembers and the mayor thought not hiring Duchane was a wasted opportunity, considering his experience and reputation. To underscore their displeasure, they walked out before a vote was taken on Duchane.
That stunt is an old one in Hamtramck when one political faction can’t get what they want. It’s something that needs to stop because it only adds to the city’s reputation of being politically unstable.
Councilmember Anam Miah was correct in saying that it comes down to the simple fact that the majority rules – even if it’s a bare majority.
Hamtramck will not fall apart because Duchane was not hired. The city is humming along just fine with Acting City Manager Kathy Angerer. In fact, a lot of the tension felt during the tenure of the previous city manager has largely disappeared.
And if you need proof that the city is under good management, look no further than the state’s recent decision to end its supervision of Hamtramck. If state officials have faith in the city, the least our elected officials can do is find a way to acknowledge there will be differences of opinions, but at the end of the day we move on and still strive to work together.