After a brief executive session, council's finance committee approved a motion by Councilwoman Marilyn Perkowski to consider Lewis Steinbrecher, city manager of Albion, Mich. Council authorized Law Director James Silver to negotiate with him and bring him on board as Kent's city manager "at the earliest possible time."
Council members were mum about the decision, declining comment after the meeting.
"How can we comment before we negotiate?" Perkowski said.
But Steinbrecher, contacted at his home after the meeting, said he had just talked to Silver and is confident he will be able to work out a contract with Kent within the next few days.
He said he has not made any announcement about the possibility of coming to Kent, but expected to announce his resignation in Albion this morning.
"I would fully expect the word is going to get out to the Albion community, and I think it's best to make a public announcement," he said. "I expect we'll be able to work out the terms of a contract. I think there's certainly a strong mutual interest."
Steinbrecher was one of 90 people who applied for the job, which became vacant in March when former city manager Priscilla Blanchard accepted a settlement of about $91,000 in exchange for her resignation. Thomas Dority, the consultant conducting Kent's city manager search, narrowed the field to 10 contenders, and council later narrowed the list to Steinbrecher, Jeffrey Pederson of Vermillion, S.D. and Ron Singel of Old Town, Maine.
Council members Wayne Wilson and Carol Neff recently visited Vermillion, and Council members Aimee Lyle and Ed Pease visited Albion.
Steinbrecher said during their visit, Lyle and Pease talked to several people in town and also talked to him about what he had been working on in Albion and what kind of issues he'd be facing in Kent.
"I was very impressed with the Kent community," Steinbrecher said. "I look forward to working with the mayor and council. I was very impressed with the staff in Kent. They have some very good professionals in the department head positions."
In Albion, where he has been city manager since 1994, Steinbrecher worked to get a bond issue approved to provide a new water source for the city, and also worked to bring redevelopment to the city, which had faced several plant closings. He said he also has worked to build relationships with Albion College.
He and his wife, Shelley, have a 12-year-old son, Joe, and the family is excited about the possible move to Kent, he said.
"Kent is a very attractive community with a good school system," he
said. "I'm sure we can acclimate into the community quite