Huber Heights puts city manager Dzik on paid leave; video shows sobriety tests

City Council appoints Russell as interim manager; previous leader Chodkowski had notified city of upcoming resignation days before Dzik’s OVI arrest

Following the second emergency meeting of Huber Heights City Council since the Sunday arrest of City Manager Rick Dzik, council members voted Tuesday to place Dzik on paid administrative leave pending completion of an internal investigation.

Dzik, 42, was arrested on a drunken driving charge early Sunday afternoon in the central Ohio city of Mount Vernon, where he had worked as safety service director (the equivalent of city manager) until last fall.

He pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Mount Vernon Municipal Court to a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and a left-of-center traffic violation. He was driving a Huber Heights city vehicle at the time.

Police body camera video from the noontime Sunday traffic stop shows Dzik, after a long pause, telling a police officer that he had “a couple” of drinks, later elaborating that he had “two 24-ounce drinks” about two hours earlier.

The officer suggests that based on his training, Dzik appears to have consumed more alcohol than that, to which Dzik replies in part, “It’s been a long weekend.” During the heel-toe walk of the sobriety test, Dzik noticeably lost his balance twice.

On Tuesday night, immediately after a nearly two-hour executive session to consider the discipline or dismissal of an employee, Huber Heights City Council members voted on two resolutions: one placing Dzik on leave and one to hire his replacement.

John Russell, who serves as fire battalion chief for the Huber Heights Fire Division, was appointed interim city manager in a unanimous vote.

Credit: Marshall Gorby

Credit: Marshall Gorby

After a first emergency council meeting Monday, Mayor Jeff Gore had said City Council was only taking the issue “under review,” adding Dzik had done “an exceptional job” for Huber Heights, and calling the arrest “a matter of personal issues.”

Gore and council took a different stance Tuesday.

“It was important for this council to speak not only to our residents but to the nearly 300 employees in the city ... that there’s not a void in leadership,” Gore said after Tuesday’s meeting. “I believe we have somebody in John Russell (who) will be the glue that holds all of this together while we go through this transition.”

Russell has been considered for the city’s highest leadership position before. In 2022, he was one of four finalist candidates — which also included Dzik — vetted by Baker Tilly, a human resources firm hired by the city a year prior to assist in the city manager search.

A May 2022 vote to approve contract language, held as a precursor to a subsequent vote to appoint Russell to the position, failed 4-3. A month later, all four finalist candidates were voted down.

As the process grew increasingly unproductive, with tensions rising among members of council, the city voted to temporarily pause the search.

The process was restarted six months later in January 2023 and by August, Baker Tilly had compiled a fresh batch of candidates, a list which did not include Dzik or Russell.

But just weeks after that, in an unexpected vote, council passed a resolution to appoint Dzik to the role.

Dzik’s first day was Sept. 11. At that point, the city had been without a permanent city manager for more than two years.

During those two years, the city was largely led by Assistant City Manager Bryan Chodkowski, who essentially wore two hats as both assistant and interim city manager until Dzik took over the role.

One week ago, just five days prior to Dzik’s arrest, Chodkowski submitted his letter of resignation, effective mid-June, Gore relayed Tuesday.

“I have the utmost respect for what he’s done and his willingness to step up,” Gore said. “I wish Bryan was staying, but I also know ... he’s doing what’s in the best interest of himself and his family.”

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