Huber Heights council to vote on fire battalion chief as new city manager

Monday’s scheduled vote comes after a yearlong search

HUBER HEIGHTS — The search for a new city manager that began in March 2021 may soon be over, as Huber Heights city council is set to vote on a resolution to approve candidate John Russell for the position Monday.

A resident of Huber Heights, Russell currently serves as the administrative battalion chief for the city’s fire division. He was promoted to that position in March 2021 and has served in various roles within the department since 2000, according to city documents. He also has previous experience with the city of Xenia Fire Division.

During a work session this week, council entered into executive session to discuss multiple topics, including the appointment and employment of public employees, after which Mayor Gore announced that a resolution to appoint Russell would be placed on Monday’s regular session agenda.

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“I truly care about this city that I have called home for almost 40 years,” Russell said in his candidate questionnaire. “I have dedicated my career to public service and want to positively influence change in our local government by helping to bridge the gap between politics and administration.”

Along with his role as battalion chief, Russell currently works as an adjunct EMT lecturer at Sinclair Community College and as a realtor for Brennan and Associates Realty Inc. He also serves on the board of directors for both Firefighters and Company Federal Credit Union and the Y at the Heights, his resume states.

Russell earned two associate of applied science degrees from Sinclair Community College, one in fire science administration and one in fire science technology.

Huber Heights’ search to fill the role began last year after City Manager Rob Schommer, who served in the position for over seven years, resigned amid controversy in March. Bryan Chodkowski has filled in as interim city manager pending appointment of a new candidate.

Russell is one of four finalist candidates vetted by Baker Tilly, a human resources firm hired by the city to assist in the search. Council approved a $30,000 contract with the company in October.

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All four candidates were interviewed by council earlier this month. They include Russell, Gerald Smith, Richard Dzik, and Luke Sims.

Smith is the city manager in tiny Creedmoor, N.C., his resume states, but he’s had more than a half-dozen other stops. He previously served as city manager in Maquoketa, Iowa, and Junction City, Kansas. Smith has previously served as director of general services for Kansas City, Mo.; assistant city manager for Upper Arlington, Ohio; village administrator for Riverdale, Ill.; city administrator for North Chicago, Ill.; and assistant to the village manager in Deerfield, Ill.

Smith earned bachelor of arts degrees in urban history and political science from Elmhurst College and a master’s degree in public administration/urban management from Northern Illinois University.

Dzik is the safety service director for Mount Vernon, a city of 17,000 northeast of Columbus. He has previous experience as a manager for Crowe LLP accounting firm, director of Knox County 9-1-1, director of the Knox County Emergency Management Agency, and in multiple firefighter/paramedic positions, according to his resume.

Dzik earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from Kenyon College and a master of arts degree in public policy management from Ohio State University.

Sims is the assistant city planner in Winona, Minn., population 25,000, according to his resume. His previous experience includes serving as interim economic development director for Winona County; as a community development intern for the city of Mankato, Minn.; as a business manager for the University of Montana’s associated students organization; and as associate director of marketing and communications for Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Sims earned two degrees from the University of Montana, including a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration, along with a master of arts degree in urban planning from Minnesota State University.

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