Hastings City Manager Jeff Mansfield will be “moving on to other things,” on July 1, 2019. Along with his resignation, he offered to help in any way he could for a smooth and efficient transition.
Jerry Czarnecki, city clerk/treasurer/finance director, wanted to be considered for the city manager’s position, Mansfield said. Czarnecki has been with the city almost 18 months, first as Community Development director before taking his current position six months ago.
Mansfield recommended Czarnecki, saying he adapted quickly to both roles, assumed leadership and has a very positive relationship with the staff, council, regulatory and funding agencies and the community. “Jerry has done a truly outstanding job during his time with the city,” he said.
At his suggestion, the Hastings City Council set Monday to interview Czarnecki and possibly offer him the position.
The panel formally interviewed Czarnecki for the position yesterday, but stopped short of offering him the job. A motion by Councilman Bill Redman to appoint a three-person committee to negotiate conditions of employment with letters of agreement, and come back to a closed session and act on the agreement was defeated by a 4-4 tie, with Councilman Don Smith absent.
Members Redman, John Resseguie, Bill Cusack, and Mayor Dave Tossava voted yes; Brenda McNabb-Stange, Don Bowers, Al Jarvis and Therese Maupin-Moore voted no. McNabb Stange said they were rushing the process when there was no reason to, and Czarnecki lacks experience as a city manager, especially in laws and legal matters to do with cities.
Maupin-Moore said Smith should be present at a vote that important and a new job description should be in place before they fill the position; Bowers thought the opening should be advertised. “I like Jerry, but this is not the proper way to do it,” he said.
Jarvis said he voted no because he didn’t like the three person committee idea.
A second motion by Redman to name Czarnecki as the sole candidate for city manager passed 5-3, with Redman, Resseguie, Cusack, Jarvis and Tossava voting yes, Bowers, McNabb-Stange and Maupin-Moore voting no. //
Council members did not challenge Czarnecki’s resume or his answers to questions during the interview. The lack of experience was mentioned but several on the council weren’t concerned, saying Mansfield started out with less experience than Czarnecki has.
Mansfield and city Attorney Stephanie Fekkes will develop letters of agreement and job description for the first council meeting in August when Smith will be back on the council.
Czarnecki promised if hired, he would work hard, be honest and demand accountability from those who work for the city. His goal would be to get good department heads and work to remove obstacles to help them become successful. He said his background in education was non-traditional, but it prepared him to handle a variety of unpredictable situations and he noted the structure of education is similar to a city’s, with a board of education and superintendent not unlike a city council and city manager.
Again, he promised hard work and a positive attitude for the next 15 years, if hired.
“I want to be part of the solution when I can be of benefit the most…If not me, I’ll stay anyway. I’m not going anywhere.”
His background includes 25 years at Kelloggsville Schools and math teacher, head of the math department and boys and girls basketball coach. He holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from GVSU, and Bachelor of Science degree from Alma College.
He has developed knowledge of the city while in community development, working with the downtown development authority, local finance development authority, chamber of commerce and business owners in the city, he said.
As clerk/finance director, he worked on budgets, elections, human resources, employee benefits, with the cemetery committee and the department of public services.
If given the job, Czarnecki would work with a new clerk/finance director/treasurer, and then work with Mansfield for several months before his departure.