Otsego officials pick Decatur’s Aaron Mitchell as new city manager

By: 
Ryan Lewis

Decatur village manager Aaron Mitchell has accepted a conditional offer to be Otsego’s new city manager.
City commissioners made the unanimous decision to hire Mitchell following a day of interviewing five finalists Thursday, Jan. 25, according to Mayor Cyndi Trobeck.
“Aaron was the first choice straight across the board,” she said. “From my perspective, he had the experience, and even-tempered personality, confidence and was outgoing.”
Mitchell said he was eager to start as soon as possible.
“My big drive, my big emphasis, is on community,” he said Tuesday. “I’m really excited to continue what Otsego has there, with its fantastic relationships with the school and neighbors.”
Trobeck said Mitchell impressed her with his enthusiasm for bringing in economic development as well as his interest in the area.
“Before we even knew he’d applied, he had already come through and toured Otsego with his family,” Trobeck said. “And he came in and checked out our hometown Christmas program, ate at our restaurants. That was very impressive, because, for one thing, we’re looking for a good fit for our community.
“And it has to be a good fit for them. It impressed me that he’d done his legwork ahead of time, he told us he has two younger children. Because he’d be relocating them, he wanted to make sure this was a place he wanted to come.”
In his application, Mitchell said, “Our family is our focus; in fact I made a choice to stay at home with our kids for seven years as I worked as a deputy township clerk (at Antwerp Township) part-time... In September, we took a tour of the city to see (our children’s) reactions... Both were more open to the discussion than my wife and I thought. By the end of the tour, my daughter was looking for ‘for sale’ signs in front of houses she liked! It was for me, one more example of how my family and I feel that we are being called to the community of Otsego.”
Mitchell, a Western Michigan University graduate, worked as an assessing field technician for APG Inc. from 2003 to 2014. After his time as Antwerp Township deputy clerk, from 2008 to 2015, the Paw Paw school board vice-president served as Decatur’s clerk/treasurer from 2015 to 2016 before moving to the manager post.
Trobeck said the nearly 12-hour day of interviews and deliberations finished at around 7 p.m.
“Each of our candidates were all top notch,” she said. “Other (finalists) could easily have filled the spot.”
The other finalists included Harrison Township deputy supervisor Andrew Dymczyk, Chicago attorney John Ardaugh, Vinita City, Mo., clerk Brent Bury, and Douglas director of community and economic development Lisa Imus.
The post opened up after Thad Beard resigned in August after 17 years with Otsego.
Ultimately, Trobeck said, Mitchell was the favorite as commissioners discussed the selection late last Thursday. She said that was due to his job experience, his service as treasurer for the Southwest Michigan City Managers Association and his community involvement—his work with RedArrow Ministries, his membership with the Paw Paw Lions Club, his coaching with Rocket Football.
“In his interview, he said he was looking to stay here longer than Thad,” Trobeck said.
Mitchell does not have a start date just yet; contract negotiations are expected to continue through at least the city commission’s next meeting Feb. 5. In Decatur, he earned a $51,000 salary.
Trobeck expected him to begin late this month or early March.
Mitchell said he’d informed the Decatur village council of his decision; his contract there requires him to giv

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