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Name Jana Ecker as the next city manager

Birmingham City Commissioners are now approaching a decision on who to employ as the next city manager when current city manager Tom Markus leaves at the end of this June. Markus has run the search for his replacement and the commission is following a game plan that involved narrowing down a field of over 40 applicants to six better qualified contenders, a round of public interviews, a public meet and greet session, further interviews, all the while encouraging public feedback. A final decision will be made sometime this spring.

The final field of applicants has now been reduced to three persons, two of whom we are most familiar with – Blaine Wing, until recently the city manager in neighboring Rochester, and Jana Ecker, currently the assistant city manager under Markus in Birmingham.

As both a local business and, for some of us, local residents, at Downtown Newsmagazine we are in a unique position to make a recommendation on who would be the best fit for the city of Birmingham as the next city manager. Individually, and cumulatively, we bring over four decades of experience covering all forms of government in Oakland County, and for the past 12 plus years, we have more closely followed than other observers the workings of government in Birmingham.

We have some knowledge of Wing from a period of a few years in the last decade when we covered the Rochester government. His resume and experience on the job certainly qualify him to be one of the finalists for the Birmingham post of city manager.

But we think there is a strong case for the city commission to give its support in the final vote for Jana Ecker for this important post.

We make this early recommendation based on two areas of consideration – past professional track record and an understanding of the sense of place for the community at a most crucial time for Birmingham

On the professional side of the equation, Ecker, an attorney, brings some 26 years in both municipal law and local government, 20 plus years right here in Birmingham itself, having spent time as a city planner, then head of the planning department; 18 months in an understudy position of assistant city manager under Markus; eight months as interim director of the Birmingham Shopping District. She checks all the boxes necessary to be the city manager: long range planning; personnel and labor relations background; parks and recreation knowledge; multi-modal experience; time spent working with other government units; budgeting and municipal finance, to highlight just a few areas of her expertise. She is a forward thinking public servant, well versed in the contemporary trends that are shaping local communities for the future, and has been mentored most recently by one of the best city managers in the profession.

Equally important is her understanding of the sense of community here in Birmingham. Ecker is well grounded in the history of the community, its people and institutions, both where we have been and where we need to go in the future for the community to remain an attractive place for residents and businesses.

We understand the city commission's desire to follow the game plan laid out when this search started months ago, but the quicker the better when it comes to naming Jana Ecker the next city manager for Birmingham.


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