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Escanaba DDA picks new director

ESCANABA — Members of the Escanaba Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board chose Scott Czasak of Macomb, Mich., to serve as the authority’s next executive director in a special meeting Tuesday.

Czasak has been a quality control enumerator for the U.S. Census Bureau in Clinton Township, Mich., since 2019 and a campaign consultant with Icon Consulting of Macomb Township since 2004. Previously, he worked as a legislative director for the Michigan State House of Representatives from 2015 to 2018, a historical commissioner for Macomb Township from 2013 to 2014 and a legislative assistant and scheduler in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2010 to 2012. He is a fellow of Michigan State University’s Michigan Political Leadership Program and has received a master of public administration, local government management degree and a bachelor of arts, political science degree from Oakland University, along with an associate of general studies degree from Macomb College.

Ed Legault, the DDA’s previous executive director, stepped down from his position in February to take a position as the director of the Delta County Economic Development Alliance. The DDA board discussed the process of finding Legault’s replacement that month. Board members decided to open the position and accept applications through March 13. A total of 25 applications were submitted for the position.

A hiring committee formed by the DDA held a meeting on March 16, but its subsequent meetings were delayed due to COVID-19. Applicants for the executive director position were notified that the hiring process had been put on hold.

Another email to applicants was sent out in late May to confirm or deny their continued interest in the executive director position. About 12 of the applicants withdrew their names from consideration.

The hiring process resumed with a hiring committee meeting on Thursday, June 4. Then, committee members chose three finalists to complete a questionnaire and aptitude test. The finalists were Czasak, Jenny Lancour of Gladstone and Brenda Burkett of Adrian, Mich.

Later, the committee agreed to present the names of all three candidates — along with their resumes, questionnaire answers and aptitude test results — to the board. The presentation took place on Thursday, June 25; the following day, interviews with the finalists were held.

During Tuesday’s meeting, board members cast their votes on which finalist they felt should serve as the DDA’s next executive director.

“The board has decided to vote by secret ballot to avoid any kind of influence with voting in a group,” Vice Chair Mark Ammel said.

As three members of the board — including Chairperson Dan Bender — were not in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting, the board’s vote initially resulted in a tie between Czasak and Lancour. While Bender had submitted a vote in a sealed envelope, it was determined that a vote cast in this manner could not legally be accepted.

“I think if Mr. Bender wishes to vote openly by phone, we can accept that,” Ammel said.

In a phone call, Bender publicly cast a vote for Czasak, breaking the tie. A motion to cast a unanimous vote in favor of bringing Czasak on board was then unanimously approved.

“He had great qualifications, he brought really great, positive energy into the interview with him, and he seemed very eager to work as hard as he can to help a small community such as ours achieve its full potential,” Ammel said of Czasak.

A motion to instruct the hiring committee to contact Czasak and begin the contract negotiation process was approved by the board, as well. If the process goes smoothly, Czasak may be formally hired at a regular or special DDA board meeting in July.

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