Durand City Manager Colleen O’Toole submitted her resignation early in November 2020 after accepting another city manager position with the city of Saline in Washtenaw County. Having a young daughter, O’Toole had reasonably decided she wanted to live nearer to her family, residing in northern Ohio. She had served the city since February 2017.
After her departure, Andrew Bisaha, the Durand Director of Public Works, was named as the interim city manager. Bisaha had previous experience serving as the interim city manager in Montrose and was comfortable working in that position for the city of Durand. In deciding on Bisaha as the interim city manager, the Durand City Council had also hired Walsh Municipal Services to assist with the search for a permanent manager – generally a rather detailed process. Walsh Municipal Services brought several candidates to council and after a thorough interview undertaking, council decided on Cameron Horvath who is originally from the Howell area.
Horvath has now been in the position for a couple months and is extremely pleased with the supportive welcome he has received from the Durand community. He shared a fond memory he has of Durand from a visit to the city many years ago, explaining that he had been drawn early on, seeing so many people out-and-about, walking dogs and enjoying small town life.
Horvath was raised in Howell, attending Howell schools from kindergarten through graduation. While in high school, he discovered an interest in landscape architecture and decided to pursue that at Michigan State University – the only college in the state with an undergrad program in that field of study. After visiting MSU while still in school, he fell in love with the campus, which helped seal-the-deal for him.
Landscape architecture is a 5-year program of study. Horvath graduated from MSU in 2013, but found in searching for an entry level job, that landscape architecture was still a bit depressed from the 2008/2009 recession and he was competing with people coming back from those years who had more experience. He eventually took a job for a landscape contracting company in Romulus, doing mostly what he described as bidding and budgeting projects. Then in 2015, he noticed a job that was available back in Howell for a civil engineering company, looking for a landscape architecture project manager. He tried for that position, but discovered it was already filled. Still, the company expressed an interest in him and offered him the opportunity to do surveying work. The position with the smaller company brought along many varied and educational experiences to Horvath, allowing him to be involved with aspects of civil engineering, planning and other areas outside of landscape architecture, broadening his skillset.
In time, Horvath took on a position with a larger national-level firm in Ann Arbor and was directly involved in planning – a position he was pleased with until the March 2020 pandemic shutdown. He found himself working from home and eventually furloughed as the company struggled through the COVID-19 economy. Minus a job, he fell back on a real estate license he had earned in 2017, giving the housing market a try, though that did not pan out so he took on construction work. Between, he had sent in his resume to Durand for the city manager job.
“I always kind of wanted to get into civil work and government work,” Horvath shared. “I felt like it would be more fulfilling in that you are better rooted in the community. You can give back to people more directly.”
After discovering he was one of a group of 15 during the Durand interviewing process, his wife assisted him in doing considerable research in preparation. Horvath is married and has two children. “I studied as best as I could,” he said, becoming more excited when the group of 15 was narrowed down to just four and he was still in that group.
In realizing he was finally offered the Durand position, Horvath said he was extremely excited. “I think they saw my past experience with development and working with civil engineering, planning and in the landscape architectural field. They had also said they were looking to retain younger families and I fit that demographic.”
A couple months in and Horvath is pleased with his new job. “The staff has been amazing in regards to helping me,” he shared, also discussing the city council. “There is a good mix on city council, too. That makes for a good system of checks and balances that is nice for the residents.”
Horvath has delved into the position and is enthusiastic about several upcoming city projects such as the replacement of old water mains and street repaving planned for the south side, citing infrastructural needs. He also mentioned the railroad crossing project in the works for Oak Street.
Regarding an overall view of Durand, Horvath said he is impressed with the collaborative effort that occurs between multiple organizations – particularly the Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce and the ongoing Durand Beautification Project.
“Honestly, every interaction I have had so far, every single one has been positive and respectful,” he said.