City manager candidates visit Kent

Matt Peters

The Kent City Chambers filled up with about 50 people Friday night, but everyone was there for just three of them — Jerome Kisscorni, Patrick Titterington and David Ruller.

Kisscorni, Titterington and Ruller were all in town Friday to meet with City Council, take a tour of Kent and meet with the public. The trio spent more than two hours talking with community members and Council. Council concluded the candidates’ time in Kent with a two-hour interview with each one during an executive session Saturday.

Kisscorni, assistant city manager in Kalamazoo, Mich., said he enjoyed seeing the town and meeting with Kent’s residents. Kalamazoo is also a college town as home to Western Michigan University.

“It was a good cross-section of the community,” he said. “You could see from talking to people the care they have for the community.”

Kent State was not new to Titterington, city manager in Trenton, Ohio. He grew up around Cleveland and several members of his wife’s family attended Kent State. He said it was encouraging that the town is looking ahead.

“There is a lot of projects on the horizon,” Titterington said. “They are looking far enough out to make those projects happen.”

Ruller, who has worked with university environments in the past at the University of North Carolina and Virginia Tech, said he jumped at the chance to be involved with that environment again. He is the assistant city manager of Public Works and Utilities in Kingsport, Tenn.

“I very much enjoyed the tour,” Ruller said. “I fell in love with the university environment. I’d love the opportunity to be here to be a part of Kent’s future.”

On the tour, favorite spots of the candidates were the brain sculpture by Merrill Hall and the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

The two-hour meet and greet with the candidates allowed residents to ask questions of the candidates.

Gary Lockwood, Brady Lake resident, said he was happy he came to talk to the candidates.

“I was glad I came because I got to grill them on their knowledge of the arts,” said Lockwood, who is the founder and artistic director of the Standing Rock Cultural Arts that sponsors art programs in Kent. “Nobody ever asks these guys these questions.”

Lockwood said he was particularly impressed with Krisscorni, citing his aggressiveness as a trait Kent is in need of.

But the city may not know Council’s favorite candidate for several more weeks.

Councilman Wayne Wilson said he was unsure how much longer Council will take before naming a new city manager.

“Last time, we had people go into the cities to get a feel for what the manager had done or not done,” Wilson said of the possibility of an additional step to the process. “Personally, I think it’s a very vital part of the process. The resumé looks so good you wonder, ‘Could it be true?’”

Wilson said he was unsure if Council will decide to go through that process again, but if they do, trips could take place in the next few weeks.

He also said Council does not feel rushed to select a city manager due to the job Interim City Manager William Lillich has done.

Lillich has been filling in as interim city manager since Lew Steinbrecher resigned to accept a job in Moline, Ill., last September.

Wilson said he welcomes the opinions of residents about their feelings on the candidates.

The city manager is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the city and answers to Council. Whoever is selected will be in charge of heading the Bicentennial Plan.

Contact public affairs reporter Matt Peters at [email protected].