City Manager Finalist Interview: John Gabor
Troy City Council and city administrators interviewed Marine City Manager John Gabor Wednesday afternoon.
Gabor is one of five candidates for the position of Troy City Manager, which has been held by Interim City Manager Michael Culpepper following the departure of City Manager John Szerlag earlier this year. The other four candidates are: Jim Creech, Oakland Township Manager; Brian Kischnick, Tittabawassee Township Manager; Mark Miller, Troy Director of Economic and Community Development; and Vincent Pastue, Farmington City Manager.
5 questions for John Gabor
Troy City Council members and Interim City Manager Mike Culpepper took turns asking questions for nearly 90 minutes Monday morning. Here are five questions and their answers from Gabor.
Q: Mayor Janice Daniels asked: Provide example of a complex financial project for which you’re responsible and explain your role.
A: “In the auto industry, there were very complex problems. I have been in Marine City about two years, and we run a water and sewer processing plant – two different plants. ... What happened is that of six former employees, four of them had the ability to retire, and they decided to retire. One employee was pretty close to retirement and one had about a year to go. So there was this group that was getting ready to leave. So I went out and advertised to see what we got to replace the outgoing group. ... I got eight or ten applicants, none of which had the right licensing ... so I brought the union in ... and said, I need some help, but I didn’t get anything out of it. So I did a five-year look at partnering with an engineering firm to take over both plants. ... Over a five-year period ... it was a little over $700,000 in reduced operating costs.”
Q: Councilman Dave Henderson asked: If the public has a damaged view of city government, how do you fix it?
A:“When I got to Marine City, everything was by FOIA. They had nothing online. They didn’t provide that information to different groups. ... I’ve learned transparency. ... I said everything we can put up there, we’re going to put up there. ... It toned down the ‘you’re hiding this.’ ... There was a lot of turmoil over whether they fixed (City Hall) that really undermined a lot of the City Council there to the point where they had a couple of recalls.”
Q: Mayor Pro Tem Maureen McGinnis asked: Was there a situation where City Council was ever wrong, and what did you do about it?
A: "There was some controversy in Marine City about whether City Hall should have been redone and how we were going to cope with that. Everyone said there’s grants available and you just need to go out and find them. ... I said there aren’t. ... I said you are in competition with many items around the United States. And my office and myself got a little negative play off that because they thought I was against fixing the building, and that wasn’t true. ... I was against the methodology they wanted to use to fix it. ... Sometimes you’re the voice of reality ... and commissions don’t want to hear that.”
Q: Councilman Doug Tietz asked: Imagine that City Council is severly split among every issue, and the situation worsens. You can’t get anything accomplished. How would you handle the situation, and what is your methodology?
A: “Is there a council that’s not split on issues? I guess what happens, is that my approach has always been, is it in the best interest in the city of Troy? ... If it is, then you need to sit down with individuals and say, forget about whatever it is that’s driving the split – it may not be in the best interest of the city. ... I’ll work with the individuals even before we get to the meetings and say, here’s all the information and here’s why we should do this because it’s the right thing to do in our city. Now, that may or may not change their mind. … I guess we deal with it at the board meeting. ... Our common goal is to do what’s right for the city of Troy. If you always come back to that, it’s easier to compromise and make a decision.”
Q: What most interests you about Troy?
A: “It’s diversity and the way it’s developed over the years. As a poster city across the nation, that’s something to be proud of. Even the poster is struggling with revenue. How can I go in there and help them improve? You just seem to have everything going for you, so we need to just rebuild the areas that are weak now and improve other areas and adapt them to whatever residents are looking for.”
City Manager finalist interview schedule
Five interviews are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. The interviews are televised live on the government channel WTRY (Channel 10 for WOW customers and Channel 17 for Comcast customers) and streamed commercial-free on the city's website. Here is the schedule:
Wednesday, August 29
- 9-11 a.m.: James Creech
- 1-3 p.m.: Vincent Pastue
- 3:30-5:30 p.m.: John Gabor
Thursday, August 30
- 9-11 a.m.: Brian Kischnick
- 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Mark Miller
- 3 p.m.: City Council Deliberations followed by Public Comment
More candidate information is available on the City of Troy website.