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City selects Jana Ecker as new city manager

By Grace Lovins

Jana Ecker

The Birmingham City Commission concluded a third round of interviews for three candidates looking to fill the city manager position during a special meeting on Monday, March 13, selecting current assistant city manager Jana Ecker to fill the role.

Current city manager Tom Markus will complete his term at the end of June.

Ecker has worked in the city of Birmingham for the last 21 years, originally serving as a city planner. She then moved to the positions of planning director, assistant city manager and interim executive director of the Birmingham Shopping District. She holds a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and environmental studies from University of Toronto as well as a bachelor of laws from University of Windsor. Ecker is a licensed attorney in Ontario and a licensed residential builder in the state of Michigan.

Commissioners all commented on their desire to select a candidate familiar with the city and its operations. Katie Schafer and Clinton Baller noted that Ecker stands out, and it is important to have someone who knows how the city works and who is going to stand up for the community.

Pierre Boutros shared that, from a business perspective, he tends to look inward unless there is substantial reason to consider outside of those with extensive knowledge about his company. “You’re not just dealing with operations and departments; you’re also listening to the people and what they want. Having someone who knows the community in and out, been here, engaged for 20 plus years, is a plus,” he said.

Referencing the public’s responses recorded on Engage Birmingham relating to the candidates as well as the city staff’s survey, mayor Therese Longe noted that the commission’s views echo what staff and members of the community have shared.

“It seems like the feelings of the commission are in line with the feelings of the community on Engage Birmingham,” said Longe. “I would like to also point out that as our current city manager likes to say, part of being a good leader is having staff who want to be lead and who want to work with you. It’s very clear that the staff have great faith, respect and belief in Ms. Ecker, and while they were open to the other two candidates, had some more concerns about their readiness for leadership.”

After the commission concluded deliberations, commissioners voted 7-0 to select Ecker as the new city manager. The candidates were called into the meeting room and were briefed on what the body had discussed and informed of the commission’s decision.

City attorney Mary Kucharek was directed to negotiate terms of Ecker's employment contract, including salary and benefits, with Long and mayor pro tem Elaine McLain overseeing the process.


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