To the editor:
City council needs to get over itself.
Oberlin is a pleasant, small town in the Midwest with an interesting history. It is exceptional today only in that it is the home of Oberlin College.
The city manager job pays reasonable but not exceptionally high for a town its size (by contrast, the pay for city council members is unusually high). The town is not faced with many of the challenges facing other towns; the presence of the college helps to ensure stability in the income tax base. It is not faced with shrinking population, nor is it pressured by growth. The most daunting problem facing a city manager in Oberlin would be dealing with a seemingly dysfunctional city council.
Council apparently believes that they need, and can recruit, the indisputably perfect candidate for city manager.
The history of the position in Oberlin has not been, nor should it be expected to be, one of perfection. Rather the position has been filled by generally competent, hardworking, and dedicated journeymen. Likely, some had the potential to become masters in the craft. Only two in history retired from Oberlin, Henry Zahn after 17 years and his son Phillip after three. The others moved on and advanced their careers. And in this Oberlin has done well.
Eight months in an unsuccessful national search for a small town manager suggests that the person they want either does not exist or is not interested in what Oberlin offers.
Note: Michael Sigg was formerly director of public works for the city of Oberlin and left to become the director of administration for the city of Wooster. He retired after 35 years in public service, primarily in city government and now does local government consulting.