By Kevin Kelley
Jim Kennedy, the city’s service and economic development director, will retire July 1 after 18 years with the city. Mayor Eileen Patton said she hopes to hire his successor by the end of the month.
Patton announced Kennedy’s retirement in an April 19 memo to city employees and City Council members.
“During Jim’s tenure with the city of Fairview Park, we have witnessed many economic development projects and infrastructure projects that have changed the face of our community,” Patton wrote. “Jim’s discipline, hard work and dedication ensured sound solutions to each project he undertook. It has been a joy and an honor to work side by side with Jim over the years.”
Hired by former Mayor Karl Kubb, Kennedy has been Patton’s right-hand man during her 13 years as mayor.
Unlike most Westshore cities, Fairview Park’s city charter mandates that one individual serve as director of the city’s service and economic development departments. That meant that Kennedy has overseen everything from sewer and road projects to master plan updates and efforts to lure new businesses. It may be difficult to find someone with equal amounts of experience in both service and development areas.
So, when seeking a replacement for Kennedy, will Patton look for someone with a background primarily in municipal services, or economic development?
“That is a great question that we have had a lot of discussions about,” Patton told West Life.
“I believe that there is a candidate out there that can accomplish both service and economic development,” the mayor said. “Over the years at City Hall, I have been very involved in both departments helping to create development and overseeing major service projects. I will be looking for a director that has overall municipal experience, with knowledge on how cities operate on several levels. Once that candidate is identified, the person will have excellent support from myself, the service supervisor, the city engineer, the development administrator, the building commissioner and the finance director.”
The mayor noted that she has advertised for the position in The Plain Dealer and sent the job notice to all 58 mayors in Cuyahoga County. The job notice is also posted at the city’s website at www.fairviewpark.org.
Patton indicated that she will not, at least in the foreseeable future, pursue a change in the city charter that would split the job into two positions.
“Changing the charter would create a second position, and a second salary, which, at this difficult time in municipal finance, would not be feasible,” Patton told West Life.
The city charter may be changed two ways. By a majority plus one vote, City Council may submit a proposed amendment to voters. A petition with signatures from 10 percent of registered voters may also place a proposed amendment before voters for approval.
The subject of creating separate service and development directors did not come up when the Charter Review Commission examined possible changes in 2009.