EDMORE — The Edmore Village Council interviewed three very different candidates Monday afternoon for the position of village manager.
Richard Lock, who was fired from his last job as town administrator after one month on the job, was interviewed the longest, a total of 52 minutes. Neil Rankin, a substitute teacher, was interviewed for 42 minutes, while the interview for Aaron Desentz, an emergency management fellow and library security assistant, clocked in at just 23 minutes.
No one attended Monday’s special council meeting with the exception of local media.
The village council will vote on who will be the new manager at the regular meeting 7 p.m. July 8.
Desentz, 27, of Pinckney, told the council that Edmore “feels like home. It really reminds me of Pinckney in a lot of ways.”
Desentz is an emergency management fellow at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Ann Arbor, where he has worked since May 2012. He is also employed as a security assistant and receptionist at Ann Arbor District Library, where he has worked since 2008. He has served on the village of Pinckney Planning Commission since 2011. Desentz interned for Washtenaw County from last September to this past January. He also interned in the village of Dexter Finance Department from January to May 2012.
Desentz earned his master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Michigan University this past April. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from Eastern Michigan University in 2009.
Desentz told the council he would work to “market” Edmore as an attractive location for businesses and visitors. He expressed his confidence and familiarity with computers, noting that he’s been using computers since the fifth grade. Desentz said he would use a variety of social media outlets to promote Edmore. He informed the council that when he Googled “Edmore,” he noticed it wasn’t in the top 10 items that popped up on Google. As village manager, he would want to change that.
“I think it should be search No. 1,” he said.
Desentz said if hired he would bring a culmination of experience in managing several projects at once, with the energy and drive to do so.
Lock of Winston-Salem, N.C., was most recently town administrator of Pikeville, N.C.
According to a Jan. 11, 2008, article in The Wilson Times, Lock was fired as town administrator of Pikeville after just a month on the job after he initiated an inquiry into the town’s records after saying he found financial irregularities. According to The Wilson Times, Lock said he was fired because town officials did not want him to cooperate with the inquiry into the town’s records.
On Monday, the village council gave Lock a chance to explain his employment history in Pikeville, N.C. He did not deny that he had been fired.
“The newspaper down there was a little bit loose with the information,” said Lock of The Wilson Times. “Misquoting by the paper is standard practice down there. Some facts were correct. It was the most difficult job I’ve ever worked in my life by far, by 100 percent.”
Lock earned his bachelor’s degree in economics at Adrian College in 1985. He expressed his willingness to get out of the office and meet with the people and businesses of Edmore if hired as village manager.
“I like to go out, I like to meet people,” he said. “Basically what I really like is local government.”
Lock told the council he would bring a great variety of experience to the village, due to his varied employment history, including stints at Vision Solutions Inc., Consulting Solutions, Inc., Detroit Water and Sewerage, MVI Corp. and being an assistant to the parks director in the city of Grosse Pointe Farms.
“Are you looking forward to moving to Edmore?” asked Councilman Art Schuitema, as if the decision had already been made.
“I am,” Lock replied.
Rankin, 37, of Midland, was greeted at the start of his interview with a joke about his height as he walked into the council room.
“Chet, you’re a little shorter than him,” Councilman Chuck Burr exclaimed as council members burst into laughter.
“I’m shorter than everybody,” Village President Chet Guild replied.
Rankin is a substitute teacher for Professional Education Services Group in Midland, where he has worked since last September. He earned his master’s degree in public administration with a focus on local government from Western Michigan University last year. He previously earned his bachelor’s degree in recreation from Western Michigan University in 2000.
Rankin described himself as a detail-oriented person. He mentioned the Montcalm Alliance as a good resource for promoting Edmore and was familiar with the village’s annual Potato Festival.
“We have to look at investing in a lot of homegrown investments, try to find people who have an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said of promoting Edmore.
Like Desentz, Rankin also mentioned using social media outlets to promote the village. Like Lock, Rankin said he wouldn’t spend all day in the office as village manager.
“I think the key is to get out there and talk to people,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we’re all working together to solve problems.
Schuitema inquired about where Rankin would live if hired as village manager, adding that the council can make residency in the village a requirement for the new manager. However, other council members disagreed, telling Schuitema this was not allowed to be a requirement.
Rankin was the only one of the three candidates to ask a few questions of his own to the village council. He asked about the local economy, what would make next year a “great year” for the village, what are some of the hidden gems of Edmore and with whom does the village have a positive working relationship and a poor working relationship.
Schuitema said he thinks the village has a good relationship with the Downtown Development Authority and a poor relationship with the Chamber of Commerce, as he said Chamber officials don’t communicate with village officials.