Grand Island’s City Council appointed Jerry Janulewicz as the city administrator with an 8-2 vote.
Janulewicz has served as the city attorney in the legal department since January 2016 following the resignation of Bob Sivick. Janulewicz has also served as the interim city administrator since the resignation of Brent Clark in April.
“The city is in a good place and I certainly appreciate the work that Marlan Ferguson has done before me and Mayor Jensen,” Janulewicz said. “I think that Mayor Steele is a very good leader and we will go forward and address some of the issues.”
During Tuesday’s council meeting, the City Council approved Mayor Steele’s appointment of Janulewicz as city administrator with an 8-2 decision. Councilmen Chuck Haase and Mitch Nickerson voted against the appointment.
Haase lead the discussion by stating that he did not agree with the appointment because the skills of a city attorney are not the same professional skills of a city administrator. He said he did not doubt Janulewicz’s abilities, but wished the city council would have tracked a professional with previous experience as city administrator.
“I think there are a lot of things that is in that skill set of a city administrator that a competent lawyer doesn’t necessarily have,” Haase said. “I wouldn’t ask a city administrator to be a city attorney. It doesn’t work the other way either.”
Haase also mentioned concerns about Janulewicz’s decision to not have a separate employment contract for his position as city administrator.
“Over the 40 some years that I’ve been here, we went from a city manager form of government to an administrative form of government. I don’t recall any of the prior city administrators ever not being a contract employee.”
Nickerson said he agreed with the points Haase mentioned, but Nickerson said he felt Steele appointed Janulewicz because of Steele’s experience and comfort working with Janulewicz.
“In the city council as a department, strength comes in our differences,” Nickerson said.
Nickerson continued his discussion by saying that the city council is a department that needs to be challenged by broader visions and experiences.
“There are so many facets that this particular position has. They are involved in everything, all the time,” Nickerson said. “The little bit of knowledge of everything they can get. They have years and years of experience in things that happen.”
Steele responded to the discussion saying there were no specific requirements that individuals must meet to become a city administrator.
“From the moment I became mayor, I have found Mr. Janulewicz’s thought process, his advice, his skills to be superb,” Steele said. “This is not a spur of the moment decision, this is a decision I have made by seeking out his wisdom over the course of seven months.”
Steele also said there was partial truth to Nickerson’s claim of Steele’s appointment being motivated by comfort.
“I have to have somebody at my side who I am comfortable with. I cannot deny that,” Steele said.
He also mentioned Janulewicz’s council experiences as an elected official for city council, previous experience as Hall County’s Attorney, experience handling budgets and personal matters. Steele said the applications he had seen for the city administrator position have “not been that great.”
“I can’t think of anything that qualifies him (Janulewicz) more,” Steele said.
Janulewicz agreed to serve as the city administrator until the end of Steele’s term without a separate employment contract. Janulewicz will leave his former position as the city attorney and the process for a new city attorney will begin.
Before his appointment as city attorney, Janulewicz was a partner at Mayer, Burns, Koenig and Janulewicz law firm in Grand Island from 2004 to 2015. He also served as the Deputy Hall County Attorney and Chief Deputy Hall County Attorney from 1985 to 2000. Janulewicz earned his Bachelor Of Arts in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Janulewicz also serves as a member on the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer Board of Trustees and a member of the Third City Community Clinic Board of Directors. Janulewicz formerly served as a member of the Senior Citizens Industries Board of Directors. He is a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association.
Having been an attorney for over 40 years Janulewicz said “it’s not going to be easy to walk away. I’m sure I’ll still be involved on the legal aspects of city government as well.”
For the record
In other action, the City Council:
— Voted 10-0 to approve the vacation of the public utility easement in Westgate Industrial Park second Subdivision at 830 Bronze Road and 840 Bronze Road.
— Voted 10-0 to approve the vacation of the utility easement at St. Francis Medical Park third subdivision at 2620 W. Faidley Ave.
— Voted 7-3 on amending chapter 12-5 of the Grand Island City Code to include Lieutenant Positions in the Police Department. Councilmen Chuck Haase, Mike Paulick and Julie Hehnke voted against the ordinance.
— Reviewed the financials and looked for alternative ways on how to market Jackrabbit Run Golf Course, Heartland Public Shooting Park and Island Oasis Water Park.