Marty Colburn: A New Dawn for City Management


Chelsea’s new City Manager, Marty Colburn. Photo by Traci Husse.

For a town with a revolving door of city administration, the appointment of Marty Colburn as the new City Manager is a welcome sign of stability. The history of turnover in Chelsea's leadership positions has been a persistent challenge, and this lack of stability at the helm has slowed the city's ability to execute long-term plans effectively and build lasting relationships with its residents and stakeholders.

A seasoned professional with a commitment to purposeful leadership and community involvement, Colburn is prepared to break the cycle of turnover that has plagued the role in recent years. So at this point, the question on everyone's mind should be: What makes him stand out, and what can we do to ensure he stays and helps Chelsea thrive?

The Sun Times News spoke with Mr. Colburn on his new position.

One of the standout qualities that Marty Colburn brings to his role is his ability to listen and communicate. During his interview with city officials, Colburn demonstrated an open and receptive attitude as well as a poise and confidence that allowed him to answer questions candidly without resorting to canned responses and double-speak.  For instance, in reaction to the city’s current Master Plan, Mr. Coburn said in his interview the plan has, “..a lot of priorities in there. A lot.” He continued, “Respectfully, I would want to have that discussion with [the city council as a whole] to help winnow that down…find out what is most important to this community.”

Colburn's willingness to engage in open conversations and address difficult questions head-on is encouraging. He hopes residents feel heard, valued, and confident that their concerns will be taken seriously.

Colburn's style is to consider all stakeholders in decision-making, another key asset. He recognizes that the city's vitality depends on the well-being of all its residents and businesses. He favors an approach that prioritizes balance, ensuring that policies and initiatives benefit the community as a whole rather than favoring a select few.  In reference to this notion, Mr. Colburn said, “There are no kings.”

Colburn's enthusiasm for a vibrant downtown is evident in the way he talks about the time he’s already spent in Chelsea. Having experienced Sights and Sounds on Thursday Nights, Colburn said, “I was seriously impressed…by the crowd it drew. Oh my goodness!” He understands that a bustling city center is not only an economic driver but also a reflection of the city's identity and culture. 

On a more personal note, Colburn is not just a dedicated public servant; he is also a family man. He has a wife, Betsey, and a beloved rescue dog Frankie, and emphasizes the importance of work-life balance. 

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