Niedzinski

Vassar picks Niedzinski after top choice says no

Scott Pietrzak turned Vassar down, so city leaders hope to hire Bay City’s Andrew Niedzinski as Vassar’s new city manager.

City council members have made a conditional offer to Niedzinski – a Bay City commissioner – hoping to hire him as manager pending a background check and successful negotiation of a contract. The council had planned to hire Pietrzak, a former longtime city official in Pleasant Ridge in Oakland County, but Pietrzak withdrew from consideration.

“Sometimes candidates do that,” said Jeff Mueller of the Michigan Municipal League, hired by Vassar to conduct the search for a successor to Brian Chapman, the Vassar city manager who left in the fall for the city manager’s job in Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula.

“Sometimes it happens for all kinds of different reasons, but the good thing was when we had our interviews, there were some really good candidates and council members kind of went around and around in discussions on who they really liked,” Mueller said.

“Clearly, there was definitely a second choice, so they went with Andrew.”

Mueller said a background check is taking place on Niedzinski as Vassar prepares to negotiate a contract with him. Vassar, population 2,552, paid Chapman an annual salary of $67,320 when he left the job.

Niedzinski once worked as interim city manager in Pinconning in Bay County. He is an elected Bay City commissioner employed for a Lansing nonprofit corporation seeking to provide services to unemployed and underemployed Michigan residents.

Pietrzak and Niedzinski were among five candidates interviewed Jan. 11 by the council. Council member Melissa Armstrong said Vassar questioned “five amazing applicants.”

“Andrew said he would be stepping down from the (Bay City) commission if he was appointed in Vassar,” Mueller said.

“He’s been exceptional at grant-writing and I think that’s one of the things the council really liked about him. He writes all the (applications for) grants, and the nonprofit he works for is pretty much all operated with grant money, so grants are critical, and he’s really good at getting them.”

Mueller said he’s “not really sure” why Pietrzak turned down the Vassar job.

“You had your interviews, and they talked about it, and they chose (Pietrzak) and said they wanted to give him a conditional offer, and they did that, and then he withdrew,” said Mueller, who worked in municipal government before serving as a Michigan Municipal League recruiter.

“It has happened. Years and years ago when I was an assistant manager, I got offered a job in a city up north as a manager. I loved the community. It was awesome. I went up there with my wife, and my wife loved it.

“We went up there with the kids and the kids were just starting high school and junior high. And that’s a tough time to move with kids. So we took the kids up there and went around, but I ended up turning the job down. I felt terrible, because I loved the community and it was on Lake Michigan.

“It would have been awesome, but it didn’t work out. But there was a reason – family kind of stuff.”

Vassar’s city council meets at 7 p.m. Feb. 3.

Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser. He can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com.

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