BREAKING: Middletown selects official from Wisconsin as new city manager

Middletown has selected an experienced public administrator as its new city manager, officials said.

James M. Palenick, who is the city administrator in Racine, Wisc., has agreed to serve as Middletown’s city manager starting July 13, according to Acting City Manager Susan Cohen. He was selected from a field of 22 applicants.

Palenick has been Racine’s city administrator for just more than three years. His 2018 salary was listed as $142,180.

Middletown City Council is expected to formally appoint Palenick and approve his contract at its Tuesday meeting.

“I am thrilled to welcome Jim to Middletown. During the interview process, his experience, skill, and knowledge of the subjects we deal with in Middletown daily made him a standout. I look forward to his leadership and working to bring continued success to the city of Middletown,” Cohen said.

Cohen said Palenick has an indefinite contract that is renewable annually. His new salary will be $160,000, and a raise to $165,000 is built in after his first year.

“I feel both honored and deeply humbled by the opportunity to be named city manager for Middletown,” Palenick said. “Everything that I have come to understand about the community and its leadership tells me that there exists a shared vision and cohesive commitment to continue to take the necessary steps to move Middletown forward in a proactive and positive way. I am excited about joining the leadership team, moving to the city and becoming a force in that effort.

“I eagerly welcome the leadership, expertise, accountability, and energy I believe Mr. Palenick will bring to Middletown,” said Middletown Mayor Nicole Condrey. “His past successes reflect his ability to bring groups together and serve as the catalyst to propel our city into the brighter future it deserves.”

Palenick will succeed former city manager Doug Adkins, who was terminated by Middletown City Council in December. Cohen has served as acting city manager since November and will return to her previous position as administrative services director when Palenick takes the reins.

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Racine’s population was abut 78,000 in 2018. The manufacturing city is the seat of Racine County and is located on Lake Michigan about 22 miles south of Milwaukee. Racine is the fifth-largest city in Wisconsin, has more than 700 employees and has an overall budget of more than $205 million.

Palenick earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and economics from Western Michigan University in 1981, graduating summa cum laude. He also earned a master’s degree in public administration, with honors, in 1987, also from Western Michigan University.

Last year, Palenick was a finalist for the city manager’s jobs in Columbia, Mo., and Panama Beach City, Fla., as well as the city/county manager in Broomfield, Colo.

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Palenick has served in the following positions:

  • Director of Economic & Business Development, city of Fayetteville, N.C., 2016-2017
  • Town Manager, city of Dallas, N.C., 2012-2016
  • City Manager, city of Gastonia, N.C., 2007-2011
  • City Manager, city of Rio Rancho, N.M., 2003-2006
  • City Manager, city of Bay City, Mich., 1996-2002
  • City Manager, city of Dowagiac, Mich., 1992-1996
  • Village Manager, village of Dexter, Mich., 1987-1992

Middletown City Managers

1956 to 2019

Charlie Thompson, March 1956-March 1964

Dan Kothe, June 1964-September 1970

Dale Helsel, October 1970-May 1985

William Burns, October 1985-January 1988

William Klosterman, July 1988-August 1992

Ron Olsen, November 1992-November 2004

William Becker, March 2005-March 2007

Judith Gilleland, January 2008-July 2014

Douglas Adkins, July 2014-Dec. 17, 2019.

James M. Palenick, July 13, 2020

SOURCE: city of Middletown

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