Suffredin Calls for Public Discussion on City Manager

Ald. Suffredin this morning issued a statement calling for the Mayor and City Council “to have a properly noticed, open, and public discussion about the future of the City Manager position,” Evanston’s current City Manager is Wally Bobkiewicz. 

Suffredin alludes to the City Manager’s two unsuccessful attempts to seek employment farther west to be closer to his wife’s family. Last month it was announced Bobkiewicz had been a finalist for county administrator in Clackamas County, Oregon. Last May he withdrew from a City Manager position in Tacoma, Wash. following reporting that he was defending a racial discrimination lawsuit by a former department head here in Evanston.

Suffredin also cites and links to the City Manager’s current contract with the City of Evanston, noting “the taxpayers of Evanston have been very good to the current City Manager.” Bobkiewicz’ contract includes $210,206 annual salary plus benefits, including a $180,000 per year interest-free housing loan, $6000 annual car allowance. His salary is almost twice the average City Manager salary of $106,408, according to the National League of Cities, of which the City of Evanston is a member. 

Suffredin writes, “a city of 75,000 people should not be in an interminable holding pattern waiting for one person’s right circumstances to emerge.”

Read his full statement below:

City of Evanston

6TH WARD NEWSLETTER

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Ald. Suffredin

Evanston – We Deserve Better

It is time for us to have a public discussion about the future of the City Manager position.

Evanston’s current City Manager has competently served Evanston since 2009. In return the taxpayers of Evanston have been very good to the current City Manager. Now is the time for the current City Manager to be good to Evanston and place the City above his own personal and professional interest.

Over the past two years, the current City Manager has openly sought employment elsewhere. To date, he has not been chosen by other governments, though making the short list at least twice, once in Tacoma, WA and once in Clackamas County, OR.

The current City Manager has been very forthright about his desire to leave Evanston for another position, preferably out West, and is to be thanked for his frankness. But this stagnant, purgatorial existence is not good for Evanston.

While the City Manager’s desire to ‘move west to be closer to family for the right circumstances’ is admirable and understandable, a city of 75,000 people should not be in an interminable holding pattern waiting for one person’s right circumstances to emerge. The residents of Evanston deserve to know what is going on, and I believe the best way forward is through and open and transparent public discussion on this matter.

This is not about one person’s employment, but about choosing the best way forward for the residents of the City we were all elected to serve. The City of Evanston should not wait with bated breath for a decision by five Commissioners in Clackamas County, Oregon or allow our City’s course to be determined by the vagaries of the Pacific Northwest employment market. There is no succession plan, no timetable, and there has been no public discussion. We have a responsibility to put Evanston’s future above all else.

It is time for the elected City Council of Evanston, including Mayor Stephen H. Hagerty, to have a properly noticed, open, and public discussion about the future of the City Manager position. These discussions have tangentially taken place in closed executive session during the performance evaluation of the current City Manager, but now is the time for an intentional and public discussion, including citizen input and comment.

public discussion of the best way forward for all residents and employees of the City Evanston is necessary and appropriate. We as a City need to address whether a leader who openly, publicly, and unapologetically wants to leave Evanston should continue to run Evanston’s day-to-day affairs.

If a majority of the City’s elected representatives are satisfied with the current situation let them say it publicly and not shielded from the view of their constituents in Executive Session. The public has a right to know and has a right to be heard on this important topic. This is larger than one person’s employment or any personal matter. This is about finding the best way to move forward for the residents of the City we were all elected to serve.