Evanston City Manager choice John Fournier declines the job, city says – Evanston RoundTable

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Ann Arbor assistant city administrator John Fournier told the city he won’t be taking Evanston’s city manager job, after the sides failed to come to agreement on his employment contract, according to a news release.

Fournier is the second top candidate to withdraw from the city’s top job in less than four months, despite engaging firms to conduct nationwide searches. He had been one of two candidates announced by the City Council who went through  community leader interviews and a town hall for Evanstonians.  

John Fournier and wife sit outside Council chambers as the Council begins discussing his appointment May 23. Credit: Robert Seidenberg

Local activist groups had lobbied against the selection, preferring Snapper Poche, the other finalist, and Program Director for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Team.

Fournier, however, was the only candidate able to muster the seven Council votes for appointment.

Evanston City Council members had voted 9-1 Monday, May 23, authorizing Fournier’s appointment.

Fournier, 38, attended the session with his wife, Chelsea Wentworth, clasping his hands in a sign of appreciation as Council members completed their vote, officially confirming  him  as their  choice. But behind the scenes, the mayor and city lawyers were still finalizing the formal employment agreement document, which had already been drawn up with Fournier.

The contract set out the details of his employment, including a base salary of  $245,000 and other benefits, including a relocation clause.The relocation clause called for the city to provide a loan secured by a mortgage and promissory note of $225,000 for the purchase of a home in Evanston to aid the Fourniers in the family’s relocation.

On Wednesday, May 25, after the Council’s confirmation vote, Council members called for an emergency executive session to discuss an apparent development regarding Fournier’s appointment.

The city maintained in its release issued Friday, May 27, Fournier “sought to reopen contract negotiations. The City Council responded quickly with a further offer, which was later declined by Mr. Fournier.”

Fournier could not be reached for comment in a call to Ann Arbor city offices today.

In late January, Daniel Ramos, a Baltimore administrator and the Council’s top choice, informed officials he had accepted a job elsewhere. “accepted a prestigious position with another community.”

Ramos’s notification came as Council members were mulling  over preparing to notify him he was their choice for the job.

The city has met frustration finding a permanent city manager since Wally Bobkiewicz left the post in 2019, after a nearly 10 year run in the job.

Members of a former City Council had then named longtime city staffer and Interim City Manager Erika Storlie to the top post in a controversial move in October 2020.

Storlie ended up resigning her $225,000 post in less than a year after the Council  opened up an investigation into officials handling of sexual misconduct allegations brought by female lifeguards against supervisory staff.

The City will continue working with its recruitment firm, Stanton Chase, on the search process, officials said in the release.

via Evanston RoundTable

May 27, 2022 at 04:50PM

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