Grand Rapids selects city manager finalists


Jane Bais-DiSessa. Photo via

Grand Rapids has selected three finalists for the role of city manager.

Following a national search over the past six months to replace City Manager Greg Sundstrom, who will retire on Feb. 3, the Grand Rapids City Commission selected yesterday three finalists after the first round of interviews.

The candidates moving on to the second and final interviews — set for Feb. 6 — are Pontiac Deputy Mayor Jane Bais-DiSessa, Port Huron City Manager James Freed and Arlington, Virginia Deputy County Manager Carol Mitten.

“We have strong candidates with a breadth of experience,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “We look forward to having the community and city staff weigh in on this important decision.”


Bais-DiSessa has been Pontiac’s deputy mayor since October 2015.

Before that, she served as city manager of Berkley, in Oakland County, for 14 years and village administrator of Franklin, also in Oakland County, for nearly three years, among other municipal experience in Michigan and Texas.

As Pontiac’s deputy mayor, which is appointed by the mayor with approval from the city council, Bais- DiSessa supervises all city departments: finance; public works; economic development/community development; and building and planning.

According to her résumé, during her tenure, Bais-DiSessa led the development of a plan for a transit-ready downtown and assisted with the city’s three-year, $78-million annual budget.


Freed has served as Port Huron’s city manager and chief administrative officer since June 2014.

Prior to that, he has held several positions: city manager and chief administrative officer of Stanton, in Montcalm County, for more than three years; village manager and chief administrative officer of Lakeview, also in Montcalm County, for seven years; and assistant to the city manager of Walled Lake, in Oakland County, for nearly two years.

According to his résumé, as city manager, he developed an annual $90-million operating budget and strategic 10-year capital improvement plan with budget forecasting for Port Huron.


Mitten has been manager of Arlington County, Virginia since 2015.

She previously served as executive director of urban affairs and HQ consolidation at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for four years.

Other experience includes chief of land resources program center at the National Park Service and project manager at Amtrak, among other government and private sector experience.

As deputy county manager, Mitten oversees the Department of Environmental Services and Arlington Economic Development, with combined budgets of $106 million.

According to her résumé, she has 33 years of experience in designing real estate strategies and negotiating transactions in government and the private sector.

Public comment

The community is invited to provide input on the finalists at a forum at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 5 at Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids, at 1130 Wealthy St. SE.

During the forum, the finalists will answer questions from consultants from GovHR, the executive search firm working with the city on filling the position.

The candidates will also be available for a meet-and-greet with attendees.

Final-round interviews

Finalist interviews will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 in the ninth-floor commission chambers at Grand Rapids City Hall, at 300 Monroe Ave. NW.

The interviews will be conducted by the city commission and will be open to the public.

Both the candidate forum and final interviews will be streamed on Facebook Live.

The interviews will also be broadcast live on the Grand Rapids Information Network (Comcast channel 26).

Facebook Comments