Huber Heights council plans vote on fourth city manager candidate

Council rejected votes related to hiring Russell and Smith; Sims declined offer before it got to a vote

Huber Heights City Council is set for a third vote related to its city manager search Monday — while considering its fourth different candidate — this time deciding whether to appoint Richard Dzik to the position.

Dzik has served as the city of Mount Vernon’s safety service director since the end of 2019. He has previous experience as a manager for the consulting firm Crowe LLP, as director of the Knox County Emergency Management Agency, and as a firefighter/paramedic, according to his resume.

Dzik is one of four finalists vetted by Baker Tilly, a human resources firm the city is paying $30,000 to assist in the search. If the resolution to appoint Dzik fails, Baker Tilly will restart the search process, which is in accordance with terms outlined in the original contract.

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Other finalists included John Russell, Luke Sims and Gerald Smith. Last month, council voted 4-3 against a resolution to approve preliminary contract language related to the appointment of Russell. Multiple residents had spoken out against the appointment, including Yolanda Stephens, chair of the city’s Culture and Diversity commission, who said she feels the hiring process was biased and that Russell’s professional experience and education background did not fit the position’s requirements.

In a meeting earlier this month, Councilman Ed Lyons moved to amend the meeting’s agenda to add a resolution approving candidate Gerald Smith for the city manager position, a motion which was rejected 4-3. Smith has been endorsed by the Dayton chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), according to a June 6 letter to the city from NAACP President Derrick Foward.

Smith had most recently served as city manager for Creedmoor, N.C., since March 2021. However, documents from that city show the Creedmoor Board of Commissioners voted in an emergency meeting on May 27 to accept a buyout of Smith’s remaining contract in the amount of $95,412.33. The agreement cites “an unanticipated family issue.”

For the other candidate, Sims, Gore said he felt confident council members could come to a consensus for his appointment to the role. Sims was approached last week with an offer, which was contingent upon council passing a subsequent resolution to appoint him. However, Sims declined the offer “to pursue another opportunity,” according to documents obtained from Baker Tilly dated June 17.

During a city work session on Tuesday, council discussed the ongoing search process, with some members expressing an urgency to fill the role.

“For us to go (over) 12 months without a city manager is just ridiculous because all it takes is for us up here ... to do our job,” said Councilwoman Nancy Byrge. “We’ve got four candidates and we need to find a way to select one of them and get it done.”

Amid disagreements between council members on who is best fit for the position, Mayor Jeff Gore called on council members to find a middle ground by appointing Dzik.

“There’s no big secret that we do have a divided council on lots of different issues,” Gore said, later noting that he believes Dzik “checks all of the boxes” in terms of qualifications for the job.

“I think he’d be a good hire for the city (and) would eliminate the need to start this process over and go another five or six months without a city manager,” he said.

Dzik holds a bachelor degree in psychology and English from Kenyon College in 2004 and a master’s degree in public policy and management from Ohio State University in 2013.

Monday’s scheduled vote comes more than a year after City Manager Rob Schommer, who served in the position for over seven years, resigned amid controversy in March 2021. Bryan Chodkowski has filled in as interim city manager pending appointment of a new candidate.

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