Wobser named city manager

Get Sunday's Register for one-on-one interview with Eric Wobser ... which Wobsers?
Andy Ouriel
May 13, 2014
Eric Wobser is coming back home. Sandusky city commissioners voted 7-0 Monday night to hire the Ohio City Inc. executive director as the new city manager.

Wobser could start as soon as next month. The hiring announcement came after commissioners interviewed all five finalists during a five-hour private session Monday afternoon. Each candidate interviewed for about an hour in City Hall.

“I believe in myself, and I believe in this city,” Wobser said. “This city has an amazing collection of assets: the historicarchitecture, the lake, how walkable it is, the (proximity) to metropolitan areas, the schools”

Commissioners selected Wobser, a 1997 Edison High School graduate who grew up in Sandusky and Perkins Township, based on his extensive and impressive resume.

Who is Eric Wobser?
•RESIDES IN: Cleveland
•CURRENT JOB: Ohio City Inc. executive director since 2009. He oversees a nonprofit agency improving the city’s economic development and neighborhood revitalization efforts.
•EDUCATION: bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio University (2002); juris doctor from University of Michigan Law School (2005). 
•EXPERIENCE: AmeriCorps member in Cleveland (2001 to 2002); University of Michigan office of the general counsel law clerk (2003 to 2004); special projects manager for mayor of Cleveland (2006 to 2009).

Since 2009, Wobser spearheaded Ohio City Inc., a nonprofit organization overseeing community and economic development along with neighborhood revitalization in Ohio City, just outside Cleveland.

In this role for Ohio City, Wobser:

•Leveraged about $200 million in public and private investment over a four-year period.

•Attracted more than 70 local businesses to the area.

•Reduced the commercial vacancy rate from more than 30 percent in 2010 to less than 5 percent in 2013.

•Maintained historic neighborhood housing stock through single-family rehabilitation, foreclosure prevention and community outreach.

Leaning on his track record, Wobser made logical pitches to commissioners about how he could achieve similar successes for Sandusky.

“Eric demonstrated an incredible amount of energy and knowledge of how cities work, and in particular, how to lead a city with similar demographics to our city,” Sandusky ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. said. “He is a great communicator, and he has an ability of bringing people together to explain a vision. All seven (commissioners) are going to get behind him, and what you saw (Monday) was a unanimous decision that Eric is the right person to lead this effort”

Murray said the three priorities for Wobser revolve around creating more revenue opportunities in a cash-strapped budget, mapping out realistic long-term economic development ideas and improving area neighborhoods — all tasks Wobser has accomplished.

“The biggest challenge in Sandusky is changing perception,” Wobser said. “Its getting people to believe in the city and it’s potential. This city is important not only to people living in Sandusky but to the entire region. Sandusky is so special because it’s a national tourist destination. Very few cities have beautiful architecture, powerful cultural institutions and all the other assets around here”

Among the finalists who did not land the job: Sandusky chief planner Rebecca Corrigan. In a previous Register story, Corrigan said she’d remain chief planner if she didn’t secure the city manager’s spot.

An opening for the position occurred after city commissioners voted to fire Nicole Ard in early March for failing to perform her job duties. Commissioners hired Ard in fall 2011 with the approval from a consulting firm paid more than $20,000 in city funds.

Ard was paid about $129,000 a year.

Commissioners opted against using a firm and decided to perform this search process themselves.

It’s not known how much Wobser could receive, since commissioners plan to create an incentive-laden contract, in which he could obtain more money based on accomplishing certain tasks.

Comments

God Of Thunder

We can only hope that the new city manager will get the HR department to do their job. The free ride should end soon. They are now 0 for 6.

SamAdams

I wish all the best for the new City Manager and, by extension, hope for better days for Sandusky. My only concern at this early date is Wobser's connection to AmeriCorps. The federal "feel good" program was a misuse of taxpayer dollars whether it did any good or not (and it often didn't).

Sandusky needs a lot of things, many of which show up on Wobser's resume (which is good). What it DOESN'T need is more "giveaways" from taxpayers here, in Ohio, or across the country. Giveaways breed dependence, and they do so in short order. Development, on the other hand, breeds more development.

P.S. Believe it or not, I actually LIKE that Wobser has a background in law. Maybe we won't be sued quite so often during his tenure!

Licorice Schtick

"Concern" about "connection" to AmeriCorps? He volunteered for National Service. Presumably you would feel better if he volunteered to kill people overseas rather than for work to make life stateside better for others. Even if you don't like the program (and there's little rational basis for that,) to attack the guy for participating is the height of wingnuttiness. Maybe you should have been on the selection committee so you could have applied all the right-wings litmus tests. THAT would narrowed it down...to nothing.

SamAdams

Given that the military IS constitutionally mandated (and inherently necessary), and various and sundry "feel good" programs AREN'T constitutionally mandated (and unneeded), the answer is: Yes. I WOULD feel better if he was a military veteran as opposed to an AmeriCorps alum. Feel better now?

Licorice Schtick

So you think there is no need to fix our cities? Go back and read the preamble of the Constitution. You think there's a Constitutional mandate to send thousands of young Americans to their death in Iraq an Afghanistan? Wingnutty absurdity.

And even in the worst times of war, we can't use every young male in the military. This gentleman stepped up to serve his country, and you try to discredit him for that. You owe an apology to him and everyone else who ever serve in AmeriCorps.

SamAdams

You misunderstand (probably deliberately). I didn't suggest I was either for or against military action in Iraq or Afghanistan. I ALSO didn't claim I was opposed to community service. I AM, however, pro-military (in general terms), and anti-federal (read "taxpayer funded") charity programming.

Trigger from Erie

Americorps workers are paid to "volunteer." How much sense does that make?

HoldenCaulfield

If all you have on this young man is ridiculing his community service from 13 years ago, I'd say he is doing just fine. Many work their whole lives just to achieve a fraction of what he has earned in his young professional career.

Living in Cleveland, I can tell you many are disappointed to see Mr. Wobser leave the area. But as a born and raised Sanduskian, I am very happy to see this addition and the city moving in the right direction.

bwalk

Being an Americorps Alumni I feel the need to respond to this post. Americorps is a job training program that is helpful in many ways. I joined to pay off my student loans, serve a community, and help the public. It is not a misuse of tax payer dollars it is a way to build job connections, and pay off debt. I graduated from college and grew up in Michigan and could not find employment there. I found out about Americorps and was excited for a way to build a network outside of my home state that would lead (hopefully) to further employment, which it did since I am now full time employed here in Sandusky. For you to say that a program that was started by Kennedy, and Carter and merged into what it is today by Clinton is somehow bad is a mistake. For you to say that it did not do any good, well to be frank in my 2 year term I created 30 free events for area organizations that were geared toward making things that were not accessible to the low income families in the area because they could not afford the admission price. And I had huge attendance numbers at those events so I would say I did some good.

SamAdams

Whatever good the program may or may not have done, it should not be taxpayer funded. THAT'S the actual point, not whether or not a college graduate can't find a job (and what, pray tell, was your major that you COULDN'T?), and whether or not community service is a good thing (it is, but again, true service is VOLUNTARY, not paid).

You talk about cut-rate admissions? More government giveaways. If organizations want to voluntarily lower prices temporarily, good for them. But in this case, the rest of us are paying the freight, and that's NOT okay! You might WANT to attend such events or venues, but you don't have the RIGHT to attend. There's a vast difference, too, between "want" and "need." Or does AmeriCorps not teach that?

Informed

Many recent college grads with varying degrees are having trouble finding jobs. Even such things as nursing. And whether or not AmeriCorp should or shouldn't exist is simply your opinion and in no way makes someone a bad candidate for this position.

Rosa

Let's hope he can get the young people to buy homes here in Sandusky, and cut down on the amount of rental property. Maybe even get the westside fire station back..

The Bizness

We do need that, but us young people need the jobs to be lured back. I am lucky enough to have one.

bjm

Congratulations, Mr. Wobser! Wishing you and the city of Sandusky all the best!

8ballinthesidepocket

The area needs jobs, not just the restoration of old buildings and neighborhoods. Let's hope he has the tools to attract new companies that offer decent paying jobs to the area. That is Sandusky's number one problem and failing school levies in the area do not help attract decent employers. Good luck Mr. Wobser!

Brick Hamland

Great work City of Sandusky. For all those that think Eric is inexperienced or unqualified take a trip to Ohio City and actually look at the progress he has made there. If you haven't seen what he has accomplished maybe you should just keep to yourself. If you speak from facts and personal observations it has more credibility. Hopefully all the old timers that don't like change allow Eric to help develop downtown, clean up the drugs off the streets and make the area attractive to more people and businesses. Good luck Eric!

bmgasser

I live in Cleveland's historic Tremont neighborhood which is right next door to Ohio City. I can't say for sure how responsible he was for their success but I can imagine he played a very significant role. If Mr. Wobser can bring a fraction of the local, artisan business culture found in Ohio City to Sandusky, it would be very exciting. Good for him and good for the City of Sandusky!

Julie R.

Why would a young attorney ~ who was going to work for the Jones Day law firm in Cleveland, Ohio ~ apply for a job as city manager in one-horse Sandusky instead? According to what I've read, the Jones Day law firm is the 3rd largest law firm in the world, best known for their litigation practice in representing the world's largest companies and financial institutions.

http://www.coolcleveland.com/wik...

I personally find that odd but then I also found it odd when that great big prestigous Lorain County law firm of Wickens & Panzer (who hired the Lorain County rent-a-judge Joseph Cirigliano after he retired) merged with a small Sandusky law firm.

Babo

Believe it or not there are still some really talented people with law degrees that feel they can do more good for society by not working in a big litigation firm. There is more to life than working 80 hours or more per week on partner track at a big firm.

The fact that he was talented enough to be hired by Jones Day and walked away from it indicates to me he has really sound values and priorities for his life.

Julie R.

Here's to hoping for Sandusky's sake he has sound values because you sure as heck won't find too many of the OLD attorneys around that do.

A Young Adult's...

He seems like a great candidate.

His success will hinge on the commissioners. If you have a couple bad apples (like Waddington and Kaman were), it could hold him back from success. Come on commissioners, embrace and work with this guy!

WeThePeople1965

Mazel tov.

Nor'easter

Eric, congratulations. Now for the tough part. We need desperately to Separate Storm and Sanitary Sewers. (Under federal EPA mandated court order with fines unpaid) Replace ancient water lines that are failing all over the city. Rebuild and repave nearly every street in the city and repair and repave Shoreline Park and Jackson St Pier. Fund repairs by admissions tax of 8% to repay the citizens for their investment in Cedar Point corridor at the cost of 50 years of deferred city maintenance. Remove the 300 plus dead trees that belong to the city and endanger residents and their property. Change the city income tax to stop exempting the foreign workers and Bike week vendors that come take the money and run. When this is accomplished you will have a vibrant city again. GOOD LUCK and MUCH SUCCESS!! Welcome Home!

GentlemanintheRugby

Mr. Wobser has an impressive bio. A studious chap and bon vivant.

ehcuodasinosraep

Was Bartolo Colon not available for this job?

AJ Oliver

Welcome home Eric - wish you all the best. Try to talk the Conroy's into opening a Great Lakes Brewery facility here.

Gardenman

While living in this area I have had quite a bit of workings with the Ohio City Inc office. While I have dealt with people working under Eric I have always heard positive things about him. He is thought of as a capable and effective leader. My worry in his coming would not him being able to do the job but one based on the track record of the City of Sandusky they hurting his chances for greater and better things.

That Ohio City area in Cleveland is a very happening place and a true turnaround for the area. If he can bring that kind of change to especially downtown Sandusky.....WOW !!! that will be great. I just hope the City Commission will give him their "total" support and get out of the way and let him do the job.

Personally, I would never want to work for any of the past City Commissions. Maybe the current one is better but past ones seem to be such a mixed up bunch of leaders. They seemed to have no idea of where they are going let alone agree on the way to get there. I do think Dennis Murray and other new commissioners have got things on the right track now. Maybe a reduction of 2 commissioners will get rid the ineffective members.

8ballinthesidepocket

I hope the taxpayers will support this because gov't grants only go so far and it is going to require mouchas denaro to get the job done. We can't even pass school levies around here because of personal animosities. Get ready to open up your wallets and check books.

T. A. Schwanger

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Sanduskians, remember the City Manager is only going to be as good as the folks who control his thoughts and actions--the City Commission

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