By Leah Craig
Following a rigorous search, the Brighton City Council has announced their pick for the position of city manager.
Of the 38 applicants and two candidates who gave final interviews at Monday’s meeting, Gretchen Gomolka stood out due to her connections to the Brighton area. Gomolka has a background in accounting and finance and served as the Brighton Finance Director for six years prior to stepping in as interim city manager.
There had been three finalists expected to interview on Monday, but Genoa Township Manager Mike Archinal withdrew from consideration prior to the meeting, leaving only Gomolka and Cedar Springs City Manager Michael Womack.
In deliberating their decision, the Council spoke highly of Gomolka’s leadership. Councilmember Paul Gipson pointed out that Gomolka’s financial experience would be beneficial to the expansion of the local economy. Susan Gardner added that Gomolka had exceeded expectations and stepped up to the challenge in a moment of uncertainty following former manager Nate Geinzer’s abrupt resignation in May.
Having served the City of Brighton for several years, Gomolka is well-versed in the community’s needs and was able to provide a thorough assessment of both immediate and longterm goals and projects. Candidates for the position were asked to present a 100 day implementation plan and a vision trajectory for six months, one year, and three years into the future. In her presentation, Gomolka outlined various public works initiatives, ranging from the maintenance of public restrooms to proposals for construction on the city’s Grand River/I-96 exit. She also emphasized the ongoing streetscape project, which aims to fix and redesign sidewalks, roads, and signage, making the area more accessible to the public.
Throughout the interview, Gomolka made it clear she was familiar with local matters, and furthermore, expressed a desire to build upon these matters in productive and meaningful way. Her one-year plan suggested the creation of public forums for the facilitation of public knowledge, as well as building platforms for community engagement based on direct, factual sources.
“I’m committed to the city, and somehow over the past two months I’ve learned to love it more,” she told the council during her closing statements.
The Brighton City Council has extended a conditional offer of employment contingent upon successful contract negotiations and background checks, to which Gomolka agreed.
Gomolka added that she was greatly appreciative for the opportunity for increased involvement.