Ottenwess interviews for T.C. city manager

TRAVERSE CITY (AP) – Traverse City commissioners were set to publicly interview six candidates – including Ishpeming City Manager Jered Ottenwess – for the city’s top administrator job Saturday.

Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes said he hopes commissioners can select a new city manager by the time current Manager Ben Bifoss retires June 28.

Estes said commissioners are looking for several qualities in the ideal candidate, such as past experience as a city manager, and a background that includes a familiarity with publicly owned utilities and collective bargaining.

An ideal candidate also will understand the distinct roles of the city commission and the city manager in municipal governance, Estes said, adding that no one aspect of a candidate’s background or experience will be a deal-breaker.

Commission members previously thinned a pool of 55 applicants to 11. Six of those candidates were to be interviewed Saturday.

Candidates include Ottenwess; Vance Ishler, county administrator of Allegany County, Md.; Dan Wietecha, city manager Evansville, Wis.; Robert Anderson Jr., director of planning and development for the City of Detroit; William J. Cooper, former city manager for the cities of Hamtramck and Mount Clemens, and Richard A. Douglas, town manager for Selma, N.C.

Traverse City Commissioner Jim Carruthers said commission members would try to ask each candidate roughly the same questions as they gauge their fit for the city manager position.

Estes said each commissioner will rank their top three choices after the interviews. He said a few candidates usually rise to the surface, and one could even receive top rankings from each commissioner.

“If that does happen, we’d be hard-pressed not to offer a contract to that person,” Estes said.

A seventh anonymous candidate declined an invitation for an interview.

Ottenwess was slated to be interviewed at the Boardman Avenue Governmental Center at 1:30 p.m.