BELDING — After three months of searching and hours of questioning various candidates during extended interviews, Belding will have a new city manger.
Members of Belding City Council unanimously approved a motion Thursday evening to pursue contract negotiations and vetting with Meg Mullendore of Buchanan to be the next city manager.
Mullendore emerged as the lead candidate after a second interview which lasted one hour and 20 minutes at the Pere Marquette Depot.
“I’m committed to Belding and to its success,” Mullendore said. “As soon as the position was vacated, I started preparing because this is where I want to be, this is where I need to be. This is where my home is, where my roots are planted. You don’t have to wait for me to fall in love with Belding, I did that years ago.”
Mullendore, a graduate of Greenville High School, earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from Grand Valley State University in 1997. She went on to obtain her master’s degree in public administration and urban and regional affairs in 2001.
Mullendore most recently held the position of manager in the village of Cassopolis at a salary of $55,000. Cassopolis is a village of 1,774, according to the 2010 census.
She was one of two finalists for the position in Belding, but according to Robert Hamilton of the Michigan Municipal League, the other finalist, Michael Mitchell of Hillsdale, withdrew his name from candidacy as of 8 p.m. Wednesday. He did not provide a reason for his withdrawal.
“This is an amazing opportunity and Belding has a special place in my heart,” Mullendore said. “What I can bring as your next city manager is a team effort. This is not about me, it’s about us.”
Pending contract negations, a physical evaluation and drug test, Mullendore said she will begin her new position “as soon as possible.”
After questioning Mullendore during her second interview on her previous experiences, abilities and faults, council members reached a conclusion after 25 minutes of discussion.
“I think she was very honest and I think she could make a good city manager,” Councilman Tom Jones.
Mayor Ron Gunderson said he appreciated Mullendore’s honesty, as she was questioned heavily on her personal financial background after council members received her background check and credit score earlier in the day.
“I like the fact that she wasn’t afraid to address her (financial) situations that we have all been pondering,” he said. “She had told us before that she wasn’t looking for a job until this one became available … and she reaffirmed those comments again tonight. I like the fact that she was so open with us and I believe she brings a lot to the table with her education and background.”
Mayor Pro Tem Andrea Belding said she entered Thursday evening’s meeting with reservations about Mullendore over her personal financial history, but was impressed with her character and openness in answering every question asked by city council members. Belding added that she would like to see strict guidelines provided within Mullendore’s potential contract with the city.
“Her skill set is impressive and I think she’s going to bring a lot to the table that we’ve been missing,” she said.