Marty Colburn Selected as Chelsea's Next City Manager


Screenshot of Marty Colburn’s interview by Chelsea City Council. Image: Zoom.

Chelsea may have found its next City Manager.

Chelsea City Council interviewed three city manager finalists at a special meeting on Monday, July 17. During the approximately 30-minute interview, candidates Elke Doom, Michael Greene, and Marty Colburn responded to council queries on their experience in public service and vision for Chelsea. Ms. Doom is Chelsea’s Interim City Manager.

After the interviews, the council selected Marty Colburn. Five council members placed Mr. Colburn as their first choice using ranked-choice voting. One put Ms. Doom at the top of their list. Mayor Pacheco was attending virtually and was ineligible to vote.

Some members commented that Colburn’s nuanced responses revealed a depth of experience with the potential to bring a fresh perspective and new strategies to the role of city manager.

“All three candidates would be fine as the city manager,” said Councilmember Iannelli. “I feel that Marty Colburn stood out with his experience and his abilities, and his leadership. His leadership style, his leadership ability, the research he's done on Chelsea, and the track record he has in the other communities that he served which will make him my personal choice.”

During the interview, Colburn drew from his years of service in Traverse City, emphasizing his commitment to effective communication and staff empowerment. He expressed that organizational conflict often stems from a lack of understanding rather than deliberate defiance. "A lot of times supervisors may get a little anxious because they feel like an employee is not listening," he explained, adding that the issue often lies with comprehension and training needs.

Throughout the interview, Colburn presented a vision for collaborative, multi-agency cooperation, especially in addressing societal challenges like mental health and addiction. He showcased the success of his efforts in Traverse City, where a $200,000 grant from the Michigan State Police enabled the hiring of a social worker to work with the police department. He highlighted the social worker's role in coordinating resources across different organizations and ensuring efficient use of resources to better serve the community.

Colburn pushed back on the council regarding the city’s ambitious master. In an honest and grounded observation, he expressed the impossibility of tackling all outlined projects simultaneously. He recommended a thoughtful prioritization and timing approach. "It's just a matter of prioritization and timing. And so I'd like to work with you, and then with the staff as well, to identify our resources as to how we can best approach this list and make it a positive outcome for you," he told the Council.

“I do like that he pushed us,” Councilmember Keaton later said. “Our plan is just too much, and it's something that I think we've all known.”

During their discussion, council members seemed to appreciate Colburn's candid responses, recognizing the need for a clear focus and strategic prioritization in realizing the community’s aspirations. The council embraced his readiness to facilitate constructive dialogue and his potential to bring organization and direction to the city's ambitious master plan.

Colburn closed the interview by expressing gratitude for the opportunity and complimenting the vibrant community spirit he observed in Chelsea, indicating that he felt a strong connection with the town and its people.

“One of the things that I thought was interesting is that Marty Colbert addressed a lot of the things that have been sensitive issues around here for a long time,” said Councilmember Feeney. “It also was comforting to me in a strange way that he was willing to challenge us… I thought he had the experience and certainly the breadth and in a whole range of issues.”

“I think what I'm looking for right now is experience and stability,” said Keaton.

The next steps in securing the City Manager position for Mr. Colburn are a contract agreement and a successful background check.

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