Huber Heights makes surprise pick for city manager after two-year search

Richard Dzik was voted down as an option last year, and wasn’t on the city’s list of seven candidates four weeks ago

Credit: Jay LaPrete

Credit: Jay LaPrete

HUBER HEIGHTS — After more than two years without a permanent city manager, Huber Heights council voted Monday evening to hire Richard Dzik, a candidate who had been considered for the job last year but failed to garner the support of enough council members at the time.

Monday’s unexpected resolution to hire Dzik was approved in a 7-1 vote as an emergency, which waves the requirement for a second reading. Councilman Ed Lyons was the lone dissenter.

Dzik has been the safety service director in Mount Vernon since December 2019, supervising the city’s departments of code enforcement, engineering, fire, police, parks, streets, utilities, and “building, lands and cemetery,” according to the city’s web site. Mount Vernon has a population of about 17,000 people and sits about 40 miles northeast of Columbus.

After a controversial search process in 2022, Huber Heights council and staff notably limited public discussion of the hiring effort this time.

“There was no public discussion regarding Mr. Dzik or any other candidate,” Mayor Jeff Gore said Tuesday. " ... I thought (Dzik) was a great candidate last year and I believe he’ll be a great city manager.”

Dzik’s hiring agreement with the city stipulates a three-year term beginning Sept. 11, 2023. He will be paid an annual salary of $160,000. Gore said Monday that a public meet-and-greet will soon be arranged to introduce Dzik to the community.

Hiring process

On July 28, 2023, the Dayton Daily News filed a public records request for the application materials of city manager candidates being considered in this round of Huber Heights’ search. Those documents listed seven candidates to be interviewed by council members, but Dzik’s application was not among them.

Clerk of Council Tony Rodgers said Tuesday it was not until after July 28 that Dzik approached the city, via hiring consultant Baker Tilly, to express his continued interest in the job.

“(Dzik) was still a client of Baker Tilly’s ... so he was involved in other searches, and as we progressed in our search, Baker Tilly made us aware that he was still interested in the city manager position here,” Rodgers said, adding that Dzik’s round two interview took place on Aug. 14.

The vote to hire Dzik was held after council reconvened from an executive session on Monday, the topic of which was not disclosed in the initial meeting agenda published by the city on Aug. 15.

Dzik’s hiring comes just over one year after a similar vote for his appointment to city manager failed to pass the voting threshold.

Last year’s controversy

Huber Heights’ 2022 city manager search was rife with controversy, including accusations of obstruction, bias and political ploys among members of council.

In a June 2022 letter submitted to the city by Dayton Unit NAACP President Derrick Foward, he expressed frustration about council’s decision not to appoint Gerald Smith, who was a round one finalist candidate along with Dzik.

Foward said Smith exceeded the city’s posted requirements for the job, and highlighted concerns he had with Dzik’s potential appointment, including a two-week suspension Dzik received while in his role as safety service director for Mount Vernon.

According to a May 2021 article in the Mount Vernon News, Dzik received the suspension, without pay, “for poor judgment” related to his alleged decision to change the voting order of city council members when two controversial issues were up for final votes.

In July 2022, council voted on separate resolutions to appoint Gerald Smith, Dzik and John Russell to the position of city manager, all of which failed 4-3. Soon after, council voted to temporarily pause the city manager search process altogether.

Dzik on Tuesday declined to specifically address the suspension but said he is still currently employed as safety service director for Mount Vernon, adding that he looks forward to switching into his new role in Huber Heights.

“I’m excited to serve the residents of Huber Heights, and look forward to working with city council and staff to keep the community great,” he said via email.

Huber Heights Council restarted the search process in January of this year after a six-month pause that was implemented due to the strain among members.

Huber Heights has been without a long-term city manager since the resignation of Rob Schommer in March 2021. The interim manager position was first filled by Scott Falkowski, until Bryan Chodkowski took over in November of that year. That pair had served together as assistant city managers under Schommer.

For the past year and nine months, Chodkowski has essentially filled all three roles. Chodkowski confirmed Tuesday that he intends to return to his assistant city manager position as soon as Dzik is on board.

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