By Jessica Mathews /

A search is underway for a new attorney to represent the City of Brighton.

City Council met virtually last Thursday and it was relayed that a letter had been received from longtime City Attorney Paul Burns announcing he would be stepping aside. He’s retiring after representing the City for roughly four decades. Burns told Council his contract has a 30-day clause but he wants to make sure the City is taken care of. Members said they were disappointed to see Burns leave but wished him well in retirement, saying his custodial knowledge of City is priceless.

There was some debate amongst Council as to whether or not staff should be involved in the search process. The majority commented they felt the selection needed to be council-driven as the position reports to council, and that staff should not be involved in any vetting process or provide any recommendation. Councilman Jim Muzzin said he thought otherwise and that staff needed to be involved.

City Manager Nate Geinzer said he agreed it needs to be a Council-driven decision and said staff is there to serve in any needed capacity but added he thought it would be a mistake to keep staff out of the process completely. Geinzer commented that staff, all department heads and management teams meet with the attorney’s office on sometimes a daily, hourly and almost minute basis depending on what they’re working on. He said there needs to be a strong collaborative agreement with someone who wants to work with the City and help find solutions, which is critically important for a good functioning team and organization.

Ultimately, a subcommittee comprised of Mayor Shawn Pipoly, John Emaus and Kristopher Tobbe was created and will put together a request for qualifications or RFQ as well as a potential list of attorneys and groups to represent the City going forward. The task force will report back to Council on progress on a periodic basis.