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City Manager forum only opportunity for residents to meet candidates

The City Commission and Mayor have narrowed the search to three finalists and will be holding a community forum on Monday, February 5, 2018 at Wealthy Theatre starting at 5:30 p.m. This will be the only opportunity for citizens to meet the candidates and directly voice their questions and concerns.
Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids /Steve Depolo

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Current City Manager Greg Sundstrom will officially retire in February following 8 years on the job and over three decades working for the city of Grand Rapids. This will mark only the second time in the last 30 years the city has hired a new manager. And though the general rarity of this opertunity is staggering enough, the truth is that this hire, and the process by which it’s done, are some of the most important decisions we have in shaping the future of our city.

Now before your eyes gloss over with boredom and you try and click on the next link let me tell you why this is so important. The City Manager is the most perhaps the most powerful position in our City’s government. And they are not elected or directly accountable to the voters in anyway. The reason for this lies in the structure of our City Charter.

There are two forms of local or municipal government generally used in Michigan and throughout the United States.  First is a Mayor–Council government also known as a “Strong Mayor” government. In this form the Mayor traditionally has executive control of introducing budgets, setting agendas, appointing department heads and the chief of police, and is the executive running the day to day operations of the City. The Council is then responsible for the legislation and can approve or modify the budgets and proposals the Mayor brings before them.

Grand Rapids operates under the second form of government called a Manager-Council government or in our case a Manger-Commission. In this form the Council (or Commission) and Mayor vote on initiatives, approval of the budget, proposals, and ordinances. The Mayor effectively serves as a Commissioner or Councilperson at large representing the entire City as a whole rather than just one ward or precinct.  The City Manager however is the executive of the City. They introduce the budget, set the agendas, brief the Mayor and Council or Commission on incentives and proposals, appoint department heads and city staff, hire the police and fire chiefs, negotiate with the unions, and run the day to day operations of the city.

Add in the fact that our Commissioners and Mayor are all part-time representatives and you begin to realize immense amount of power and responsibility that is left in the hands of this one, non-elected, official.

That’s why this decision, and your direct involvement in it, is so important. The City Commission and Mayor have narrowed the search to a field to 3 finalists and will be holding a community forum with the finalists on Monday, February 5, 2018 at the Wealthy Theatre starting at 5:30pm. This will be the one and only opportunity for citizens to meet the candidates and directly voice their comments, questions, and concerns. If you are unable to attend the forum will be streamed on facebook live via the City’s facebook page. You can also email any suggestions or questions you have for the candidates to your Commissioners and the Mayor

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