Chelsea City Council Selects Troy Bell as Interim City Manager Candidate


Troy Bell. Photo: Muskegon Heights city website.

In an effort to fill the vacant Interim City Manager position, the Chelsea City Council has instructed city staff to initiate contract negotiations with Mr. Troy Bell of Muskegon Heights. The decision followed a meticulous selection process that included written and public interviews.

The council received a total of seven applications for the position. After an initial review, three candidates were shortlisted and invited to interview. Each finalist was given six predetermined questions to which they responded in writing. To streamline the process, the council conducted public interviews with the finalists on May 8. Each interview lasted around 18 minutes, with every candidate answering the same questions during the live session.

Troy Bell, one of the finalists, emphasized his legacy of public service. “I think it's important to note that I come from a public service environment and background. My mom was a special education teacher. My dad is a retired general officer in the service. So, it's very hard for us to get out of a household without being invested in and committed to public service. And so those two things together, the importance of family and the importance of public service are two things that guide me in the way that I manage and my style of leadership,” Mr. Bell told the council.

Bell comes from Muskegon Heights, where he served more than three years as city manager. Prior to that, he was Deputy/Acting City Manager for Walla Walla, WA. And before that, he was School Superintendent for Pathway Academies in Tampa, FL.

Bell explained his approach to management as “servant leadership,” stressing the importance of ensuring that staff have the resources and training necessary to carry out their work. He further emphasized the significance of investing in employees, allowing them the flexibility to change career paths as they wish. “If you don’t invest in employees, then they are liable to leave and go someplace else,” Bell stated.

Community engagement is at the forefront of Bell's priorities. Drawing from his experience as a school superintendent, Bell discussed the pivotal role public engagement played in driving their educational programs forward. He said, “So often we go into the community with solutions and answers, but we don’t listen. We don’t hear. We don’t ask for input. That’s how you develop answers by hearing what the community has to say. To me, that’s servant leadership.”

Though he lacks experience in interim roles, Bell did not express any reservations. He shared with the council his track record of stepping into community leadership roles without being in a stop-gap role, fostering long-term relationships that yield future benefits.

When asked if they would consider the permanent city manager position if offered, all three candidates signaled their openness to such discussions at the right time.

Post-interview, the council discussed each candidate. Councilmember Ruddock commented that Bell's written responses were particularly impressive, noting that he "had really looked at us and not just driven around. He took the time to really understand what our documents said, and he wrote that in his answers.”

For the final selection, the council employed rank choice voting, a system that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

Upon successful contract negotiations and a thorough background check, Mr. Bell is expected to accept the role of Chelsea's Interim City Manager. He will hold the position until a permanent replacement is appointed.

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