Grand Rapids mayor outlines city manager search

Mayor hopes to replace City Manager Greg Sundstrom within six months


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One week after Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom announced his retirement, we have a better idea of how his replacement will be chosen.

The city manager is a crucial role for the city. While you elect the mayor and city commissioners, it’s the city manager who runs the day-to-day operations. Many of those operations directly affect you.

So Tuesday, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss outlined her plan to fill the sixth-floor corner office at City Hall.

“I would like to propose a number of things,” the mayor said during a City Commission Committee of the Whole session.

First on that list is finding a firm that can conduct a nationwide search for a new manager.

As that search begins, the city will create a candidate profile. It will include the basics expected of a candidate as well as residents’ take on what kind of person they would like to see hired.

“That would include having community meetings, as well as an electronic opportunity for people to complete a survey and to provide feedback,” Bliss said.

Once the profile is completed and the search firm hired, the recruitment process begins.

City Commissioners would narrow the field, signaling the start of what the mayor calls a robust community process for input. Candidates for the job would go on tour, much like candidates for police chief did in 2014. They would meet with everyone from the movers and shakers of Grand Rapids to city employees.

“And then a community forum… a larger community forum, similar to what we’ve done in the past, where the community would be able to ask questions as well as provide feedback,” Bliss said.

One commissioner wants to see a process that reaches out to more than the usual suspects — the people who typically take part in community input sessions — to be part in the effort.

“That we’re more intentional about hearing from voices that we typically do not hear from,” Third Ward Commissioner Senita Lenear clarified.

The mayor wants to see the process completed and a new manager hired in the next four to six months. Sundstrom retires at the end of the year.