by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
The finalists for the city of Durand City Manager position gathered at Union Station Smokehouse in Durand Wednesday evening, Nov. 9 for a meet-and-greet with Durand residents. The candidates, joined by many of Durand’s City Council members, mingled with residents for two hours in advance of Thursday’s official interviews, which were conducted publicly at Durand City Hall, beginning at 9 a.m.
The group of finalists gathered for a photo near the bar at Mike Malachowski’s new downtown BBQ restaurant. Shown (from left) are Vester Davis, Jim Coleman, Michael Sessions, and Ellen Glass.
Davis, currently the Assistant City Manager for the city of Grand Haven, said he will utilize his years of public and nonprofit experience to continue the work current City Manager Amy Roddy and the city council have begun. Davis reports that he has plenty of experience writing grant applications, and will use his “well-rounded experience” to find the necessary resources and to spend strategically. He also stressed the importance of working with city residents and being transparent, saying Durand needs the “community buy-in” to continue to move forward.
Coleman currently works as the Director of Housing, Facilities, and Community Development for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which has given him the opportunity to manage a community of more than 5,000 people, spread out over 10 counties in Michigan and Indiana. A Flushing resident, Coleman said that, after spending the last 20 years as a government management executive, he is looking forward to using the lessons he learned in tribal government to better the city of Durand.
Sessions is currently serving as the Administrator and Clerk for the city of Morenci, and he has also served as the Mayor of Hillsdale. Sessions also spoke about transparency, and he suggested that many issues that come up between city residents and city officials can be solved through communication. In his application letter, Sessions stated that his eight years of experience in municipal government has afforded him the opportunity to administer local and state grants, analyze and create data to make informed decisions, create budgets and policies/procedures, and establish different types of earned income strategies to support general operation.
Glass, currently the Clerk for the village of Vernon, has worked and developed relationships with the Durand City Council and other local municipalities and county departments over the last 10 years, experience that she believes will benefit her, if selected. She has experience managing large projects from her time with Vernon, including writing grant applications, and she will look to demonstrate her work ethic and passion for public service to help take Durand to its next level of success.