Ottenwess leaving Ishpeming for Traverse City

By Adelle Whitefoot

ISHPEMING – Ishpeming City Manager Jered Ottenwess announced his resignation today to take a job in Traverse City.

During its meeting Monday, the Traverse City Commission approved an employment agreement with Ottenwess to begin his new job as city manager on July 22 – or earlier if possible. Ottenwess was named a top candidate for the position in April and interviewed for the position May 11.

“I’m very excited and my family is very excited,” Ottenwess said. “We’re looking forward to the move and I think it’s a very good fit.”

Ottenwess has a child with special needs and has been looking for a job closer to the care his child requires, and that’s why he applied for the Traverse City job, he said.

Traverse City commissioners selected 10 top candidates and interviewed six of those 10 after an initial background check. Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes said one thing that struck him about Ottenwess during the interview was that it was obvious Ottenwess had done his homework.

“He was aware of the city. He knew the ins and outs of the city budgets, its financial status, the make of its departments, and that was an indication, probably above anything, that said this individual was ready to move forward and leave a different community because he’s already hit the ground running,” Estes said. “We had a number of candidates whose credentials on paper were far better, but I was looking for someone who was ready to jump in, dive in, and has already done some basic homework.”

Ottenwess started in Ishpeming in March 2010 and in the three years there he has seen a new city council, a complete makeover of the Downtown Development Authority, a number of grant projects completed, phase one of the Partridge Creek rerouting project finished and phase two started, and Malton Road substantially completed.

Ottenwess said it’s hard to leave with projects – such as Malton Road, Partridge Creek phase two and the Negaunee sewer extension – essentially unfinished, but it’s something he has to do.

“I wish I could stay and finish out the projects, especially this year because we’re so close to finishing them,” Ottenwess said. “But I don’t have a say when other opportunities become available, particularly city manager positions. Unfortunately you have to leave some time to move on.”

Ottenwess said it is also difficult to leave all of the relationships he’s built up in the community. Mayor pro tem Elaine Racine is one of those relationships and she said she’s sad to see him go.

“I feel Traverse City is very fortunate to be getting him,” Racine said. “He’s been very accessible at all times. We’ve always been able to contact him 24/7 and I don’t think you always get that with a city manager.”

Racine said Ottenwess has always been there to answer any questions she – or anyone else – has had and she wishes him all the best at his new position.

“It’s been exciting, a lot of work and I think we’ve accomplished a lot (in Ishpeming),” Ottenwess said. “I’m proud of my tenure here.”