At the February 24, 2015 Oakland Township Board meeting, the Board announced, and approved, an employment agreement with Mr. Warren P. Brown as our new Township Manager/Superintendent. Mr. Brown is currently the County Administrator for Sandusky County in Fremont Ohio.
This approval came after two sets of interviews and public ‘meet and greet’ sessions. The second set of interviews was required because several Board members had lingering concerns over how the candidates would have handled the many examples of unauthorized actions by our Supervisor. The second set of interviews apparently convinced a majority of the Board that Mr. Brown was not only qualified for the position, but would respond to Supervisor Gonser’s unauthorized actions appropriately.
On January 23, 2015, interviews with three potential candidates for the Manager/Superintendent position took place. Those interviews can be watched by visiting the Township website. A ‘meet and greet’ event took place the following day where the Board members and citizens could meet and interact with all three candidates.
During the initial interview, each applicant was asked if they had any questions or comments after the Board had completed their questions. Mr. Brown asked the Board:
“I have been abundantly honest with you. I trust that you will be with me. You have had two managers in a year. Can you tell me why?”
When he saw that the Board was struggling providing an answer, he said:
“If I am off base, just tell me right now. . . . . Maybe that’s a conversation we will share tomorrow (during ‘meet and greet’) if I am invited back.”
Trustee Bailey responded by saying:
“I would personally prefer that approach… You are going to get a lot of different answers!”
During the January 27, 2015 deliberations regarding which candidate to select, several Township Board members were not comfortable that they understood how each of the candidates would respond to Supervisor Gonser’s attempts at assuming more responsibility than what he legally possessed. This concern drove the need for a second set of interviews, this time with more direct questions. Each Board member was asked to provide a list of potential questions. They would be consolidated for use during the second interview.
The first and most direct question asked during the second interview was:
“The majority of the Board has voted to continue with our current form of governance in which the Superintendent/Manager is to fully handle the duties and responsibilities spelled out in Ordinance 97 in accordance with Charter Township Act 359.
However, the Supervisor continues to work full time and involves himself in significant portions of these duties and responsibilities.
Tell us what you would do to handle, or overcome this apparent conflict. Have you ever encountered a similar situation, and what did you do in that circumstance to deal with that situation?”
Mr. Brown’s response apparently satisfied the Board members. Here is a video of his response:
The majority of the Board selected Mr. Brown at the January 27th meeting, pending the final employment agreement, in a 5 to 2 vote. Supervisor Gonser and Trustee Thalmann voted against the selection of Mr. Brown. They were supportive of hiring the candidate that stated “I do not see a problem” with the Supervisor’s unauthorized actions.
There have been a number of previous post on this website dealing with Supervisor Gonser’s (and Trustee Thalmann’s) repeated attempts at changing the form of governance in Oakland Township. In those posts, the reasons for having a professional Superintendent/ Manager handle the responsibilities defined in Ordinance 97 have been clearly stated.
It appears that we now have a qualified, fully empowered, person to fulfill those responsibilities.
Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township? The Township now has a well qualified, experienced, person that will be managing the Township in conformance with the responsibilities that he has been given. He now recognizes the challenges that the former two Managers/Superintendents had in dealing with Gonser’s continued efforts to perform in a “Strong Supervisor” form of government, contrary the desires of the community and the Board. He also recognizes he has the backing of the Board in dealing with any future authority issues with Supervisor Gonser.
Supervisor Gonser has repeatedly corrected citizens when they state that we have a ‘democracy’. He corrects them by saying our government is a ‘democratic republic’, not a ‘democracy’. The difference is that in a democratic republic, the citizens make their decisions during the elections, after that, the elected officials are the ones who make the decisions (not the citizens).
It appears that Supervisor Gonser now also understands that the Township elected officials (i.e..other Board members) have the authority to prevent a dictatorial form of government in our community. .
I complement the Board for taking this long awaited action, and wish Mr. Brown a warm welcome, and a long tenure as our Township’s Manager/ Superintendent.