Howell City Council has chosen their new city manager.
Councilmembers selected John Light to fill the vacant full-time position following a day of interviews and deliberations at city hall, Thursday. Light is currently the Director of Human Resources for the city of Des Plaines, Illinois. He has held similar positions in Grand Rapids and Parker, Colorado. Light has additionally served as County Administrator for Stephenson County, Illinois. Howell Mayor Nick Proctor said what he thought carried the day for Light were his interpersonal skills, appreciating his use of “we” instead of “I”. He said he feels Light is a team player, a listener, a decent collaborator, and consensus builder.
Early deliberations were fairly split between Light, Michael Cramer of Wilmington, North Carolina, and Heather Grace, city manager of West Branch, with Grace holding slight early favor. But discussion with Howell City Attorney Dennis Perkins led those in favor of Grace, who is also an attorney, to shift their support to Light. Grace, during her interview, spoke of her greatest accomplishment as being sworn in by the Supreme Court. Perkins later told Council that any attorney could pay for that privilege, leading those in support of her to feel she may have inflated herself and resume.
Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Manor made a motion to make a conditional offer of employment to Light while directing the Michigan Municipal League to conduct a background check. It passed 6-1, with Councilmember Robert Ellis voting against. Should Light be accepted and come to terms with a contract, this will be his first time becoming a city manager, which he says has been a long time goal of his. Proctor said that his not been city manager before is only a very insignificant concern as Light has been around municipal management and the process his whole career. Mayor Pro-Tem Manor said he thought Light was personable and had a good knowledge base, just not necessarily in city management. Councilwoman Jeanette Ambrose said she felt Light was also personable and approachable, but could become longwinded. Councilman Mike Mulvahill supported Light, saying during discussion that he believes he would bring fresh light to the community. Councilman Randy Greene said he felt down to earth and had a lot of energy, adding that he also showed compassion for the people he worked with. Proctor also felt he could be a bit verbose, but said he felt Light was goal and objective oriented, and not afraid to make tough decisions. But he also demonstrated his ability to calm it down and impressed Councilmembers when Jan Labur asked him to answer how he approaches conflict with others in one sentence. Without hesitation, Light responded, “Don’t let emotions override rational thinking.”
If all moves forward as anticipated, Mayor Proctor said he should be in office by quarter 1 or 2 of 2020. Light will succeed long-time manager Shea Charles, who resigned in May. Earlier this month, Charles accepted the position of interim CEO at the Michigan Municipal Services Authority. (MK/JK)