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Finalists publicly interview for city manager job

By Lisa Brody

The six finalists for the Birmingham City Manager position will be interviewed at two special city commission meetings, on Wednesday, February 8 at 4:30 p.m., and Thursday, February 9, at 4:30 p.m., at the Department of Public Service Building on Eton, with the public invited in person or by Zoom.

The six candidates are Jana Ecker, current assistant city manager for the city of Birmingham; George Lahanas, who most recently was city manager for East Lansing; Eric Tungate, city manager for Oak Park; Troy Bell, city manager of Muskegon Heights, Michigan; and Blaine Wing, who most recently was city manager for the city of Rochester.

Ecker has a bachelor of arts degree in urban planning and environmental studies from University of Toronto and a law degree from University of Windsor, and she is a licensed residential builder in Michigan. She has been employed by the city of Birmingham since 2002, when she was hired as a city planner, coming from the city of Jeffersonville, Indiana where she was director of planning and development. She has held positions in Birmingham as planning director, assistant city manager and interim executive director for Birmingham Shopping District (BSD). Her interview is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Lahanas held a variety of positions in city government in East Lansing for over 24 years, from labor relations specialist, HR director, administrative services director, deputy city manager and city manager. He received both his bachelors degree and masters degrees from Northern Michigan University; his bachelors in criminal justice and his masters in personnel and labor relations. His interview is scheduled at approximately 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Tungate has an MBA from Wayne State University and an English degree from Western Michigan University. He is the city manager for the city of Oak Park, a position he has held for 10 years. He previously held positions as the acting city manager for Hamtramck, the development director for Wayne County, and senior project manager for national business for Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). His interview is scheduled for Wednesday at approximately 7:30 p.m.

For the last three years, Bell had been the city manager of Muskegon Heights, Michigan; according to news reports, on January 24, city council voted 4-3 to not renew his contract. He previously worked as deputy city manager and acting treasurer for Walla Walla, Washington; superintendent of schools for Lighthouse Pathways Academy in Tampa; Florida Director for Outreach and deputy state legislative advocacy director; national director of government affairs, Charter Schools USA National Ed Network; and assistant to city manager for Beverly Hills, California. He has a dual BS/BLA from University of Miami, a masters in finance from University of Miami, and has a PhD pending from Purdue. His interview is scheduled for Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

Until May 2022, when he was informed the city council wanted new leadership, Wing was city manager for the city of Rochester, a position he held for seven years. He previously was director of human resources for Des Plaines, Illinois, assistant village manager for Village of Oak Brook, Illinois, and assistant village manager for Village of Cary, Illinois. He has a bachelors degree in political science from Western Michigan University and a masters of public administration from Western Michigan University. His interview is scheduled for approximately 6 p.m. Thursday.

Following the first set of candidate interviews, the top candidates will be provided with a tour of city facilities and will then meet with city department heads and administrative staff on Wednesday, February 15. A public meet and greet event will take place with the candidates on the evening of February 15, from 7-8 p.m. in the lower level of Baldwin Public Library.


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