By Tom Tolen /

After six years as Brighton's City Manager, Nate Geinzer will be looking for a new job. Meeting in special session Monday night, the Brighton City Council accepted the resignation of Geinzer, effective May 31st. “We are thankful to City Manager Geinzer for his six years of dedicated service to the city, and now we’ve got the difficult job of starting the process of finding a replacement,” Mayor Kris Tobbe told WHMI after the meeting.

After the meeting was called to order and following a public comment period at which no one spoke, council wasted no time in going into closed session. It was requested that the closed door meeting be held without the city manager in attendance. That was objected to by Council member Jon Emaus, who is also an attorney. However the city’s hired attorney of record said the rules do permit a such an executive session without the city manager being present. Shortly after the closed door meeting, a motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Jim Bohn to accept Geinzer’s resignation. It passed 5-2, with Council members Emaus and Susan Gardner voting “no".

Geinzer, at previous meetings, normally sat near the middle of the council dais, to the left of Brighton's Mayor. On Monday, he was seated in a different position, on the right side of the dais, as viewed from the audience.

Emaus rallied behind Geinzer, however, saying he doesn’t know "exactly the basis for the resignation, (and would like to know) what (the City Council's) role and responsibility in this resignation is." Regarding Geinzer’s tenure, Emaus said, “…in that time we have seen phenomenal successes with regard to restructuring the budget, improvement of our roads and our neighborhoods — project upon project — improving everything in the city….He's come in under budget every year." Emaus continued by saying, “(It) begs the question as to why a city manager who owns a home in Brighton, who has children who go to the schools here…is submitting his resignation and walking away from the city." Continuing with his praise of Geinzer, Emaus said he believes him to be “one of the best city managers you can find in the state.”

In his letter indicating he was stepping down from the manager’s position, Geinzer said, quoting, "It has become increasingly clear that my professional priorities on approach to government service no longer align with those of City Council.” Responding to the letter, Bohn said, in a similar vein,“There’s a perception that our views (as a council) no longer align with the city manager’s. There’s a difference of opinion on how we’re conducting the business of the city, and that happens.”

Bohn made an analogy of the city’s current situation with the departure of former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, saying, “(Stafford) may have been the best player on the team, but felt he had to leave." Emaus took the ball from there and ran with it rhetorically, saying that was his whole point. “That (Lions) team and its leadership was holding him back," Emaus said, adding, "Matt Stafford left and won a Super Bowl for another team.” Emaus said that a previous internal survey showed a strong sense of loyalty among staff toward Geinzer, and predicted that city hall will lose some valuable employees after Geinzer leaves.

The next step for council is starting the process for getting a replacement, and according to the rules one needs to be found within 90 days of the resignation, although the city could appoint an acting manager until it finds a permanent one. Toward that end, council voted for the city manager to direct staff to obtain a list of professional search firms "with Michigan managerial experience," and make a recommendation by the April 7th meeting.