Battle Creek City Commissioners have decided to go in a new direction with their next city manager.
The commission voted 5-4 Tuesday night to enter into contract negotiations with Middleville Village Manager Rebecca Fleury. The other finalist was Battle Creek's Community Services Director Susan Bedsole, who has been serving as interim city manager for the last six months.
Battle Creek Enquirer reporter Jennifer Bowman says commissioners really liked Fleury's enthusiasm and energy. But Bowman says Bedsole was applauded for her leadership, even by commissioners who did not vote to offer her the job. Bowman says Fleury's hiring likely signifies a desire for a "fresh perspective" and a "new voice" in city hall.
Many city staff members supported Bedsole for city manager. Bowman says some concerns were raised about Fleury's lack of experience in handling operations like an airport, transit, and parks recreation. And she says many of those city workers thought Bedsole have proven herself during her time as interim manager.
Bowman says the current city commission has had many rocky moments. But she says the close vote Tuesday night seems to be just a difference of opinion, and not a divide among commissioners.
A starting date has not been set for Fleury. But Bowman says during her interview on Saturday, Fleury said she would like to give 30 days notice to Middleville and help them with the transition. Bowman says the commission has set a goal of having the new manager begin work by October 2nd.