ALPENA - It has been six weeks since Greg Sundin, interim city manager and full-time planning and development director ,was appointed to guide the city's staff through the transition between former City Manager Thad Taylor and the person hired to replace him.
Sundin said it is a challenge balancing the duties of both his temporary and full-time positions and that with the help and patience of the staff at city hall things are moving forward somewhat smoothly.
Sundin signed a 120 day agreement to fill in for Taylor until a permanent replacement can be hired. He said the search is under way and several avenues are being looked into to find a qualified candidate.
"We are going to work with the Michigan Municipal League, which does searches for governmental positions and we have used them in the past," Sundin said. "We have also been asked to look into using professional, executive search firms, which we have begun doing. But thus far the ones we haven't been able to to find one that deals with governmental searches. It is not what they do, so we have struck out so far on that. We are going to expand our search for a firm farther into the Great Lakes region in places like Chicago and Cleveland."
Sundin officially took over the management position after Clerk/Treasurer Karen Hebert handled the responsibility for several weeks, on May 7 and the current agreement is set to expire on Sept. 7. He said if a new manager isn't appointed before then he will continue in the role until one is.
"The contract is somewhat open ended and can be extended in 30 day increments," Sundin said. "I'm not simply going to walk away at the end of the 120 days if no one is in place. Realistically it is going to be difficult to do. The search takes a period of time and is not a process that is done in a couple of months. I'm simply going to walk away. I just won't do that as long as there is progress of any kind. I just wouldn't do that to the city."
Before the council chose Sundin to fill in he made it clear he had no interest in the job long term, but he said he has been asked by some in the community if he would reconsider. He said as of now he is still easing into the job and has not given it much thought, but if he did decide to enter the mix for the opening, there would be one condition that would have to be met.
"I have been doing this six weeks and there is still a lot for me to learn and that is my focus now. I think I'm a fairly fast learner and have been able to grasp a lot of it. There have been good days and there have been bad but you are going to have those as you are leaning," Sundin said. "I would not recommend having one person be the manager and the developer though. It is just too much. If - and this is a big if and I want to stress that - if I were to become full-time city manager it would only be on the recommendation we hire a replacement planning and developer director, which I have no doubt can be done because there are people out there who I believe would be interested in the position. If anything went that way that would have to my recommendation."
Mayor Matt Waligora said he is pleased with the way Sundin has settled into his added role and others have commented on how he conducts business. He said at this point it is hard to say when a new manager will be found, but appreciates the fact Sundin will work beyond early September if need be.
"In my opinion he has hit the ground running and we have gotten nothing but positive feedback about the job he is doing. We know the amount of work we have asked him to do and he has really been coming through," Waligora said. "Right now there is no telling how long or how shortly it will be until of a wait it will be until we find someone full-time. It is important that we find the best person and not rush into a choice we're not comfortable with and I think Greg feels the same way."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.