Council gives city manager thumbs up

Patrick Jordan

ESCANABA — Escanaba City Council evaluated its new city manager, Patrick Jordan, as required by his contract during a closed session at Thursday’s regular council meeting.

Jordan, 52, from downstate Muskegon, has been working for the city for nearly four months. He became Escanaba’s top administrator when Jim O’Toole retired on June 30 after serving the city for 29 years including 10 years as city manager.

Following the 20-minute closed session Thursday, Mayor Marc Tall told the Daily Press that council members are pleased with Jordan’s performance to date.

“We were all positive about how he is getting along with the staff, getting out in the community, meeting people… and how quickly he’s learning the ropes,” commented Tall.

During the closed session — which Jordan requested so council members would be more candid — each of the council members expressed their opinions of Jordan with some offering suggestions for the new city manager, explained Tall.

For example, Tall said he talked about next year’s budget process and encouraged Jordan to meet with council and department heads during a public meeting in January to get an idea of each department’s needs, as has been done in the past.

Council members are also used to constantly being updated on city matters and requested Jordan to provide more information to them, said Tall, noting that Jordan agreed to work on that.

“With O’Toole, we were very well served. He kept us very well informed,” added Tall.

Some council members used a detailed questionnaire to assist in evaluating the new city manager, but a lot of questions could not be filled in because Jordan has only been on board for less than four months and has not had to deal with many of the issues included on the form, said Tall.

Overall, council is “quite happy” with Jordan, concluded Tall, adding, “Personally, I think we made a fine choice. He’s going to be a good city manager.”

The evaluation by council was part of Jordan’s contract with the city, noted Tall, explaining Jordan wanted to be assessed prior to the Nov. 7 council election so he would be evaluated by the council members who had hired him.

Three council seats are expiring next month. Tall, Pat Baribeau and Ralph Blasier are all seeking re-election and will be challenged by Katherine Hardt and Peggy O’Connell-Schumann.

The current five council members hired Jordan for the city manager position in June. He signed a one-year contract with the city, earning a pay rate equal to $95,000 a year during a six-month probationary period then earning a pay rate of $100,000 a year.

After going back into open session Thursday, Blasier made a motion to end Jordan’s probationary period. The motion failed.

Tall said council plans to consider when to end Jordan’s probation following a review of his contract with the city attorney at council’s next meeting so there is a clear understanding of the process.

Prior to working for the city of Escanaba, Jordan had served as the administrator of Wexford County in downstate Cadillac.

He also previously worked as an assistant city manager and borough manager in Alaska, vital records manager in Texas, township supervisor, adjunct professor, and deputy county clerk in Muskegon, and a friend of the court investigator and corrections officer in downstate Grand Haven.

Jordan earned a bachelor’s of science degree in political science from Grand Valley State University in 1995 and a masters of public administration degree from Western Michigan University in 2000.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,