St. Joseph Commissioners conduct interviews for city manager; discussions continue Thursday


The St. Joseph City Commission will meet at noon this Thursday, July 11 to discuss the hiring of a new city manager following interviews with two finalists Wednesday night.

Commissioners heard from St. Joseph Assistant City Manager Emily Hackworth and Bridgman City Manager Juan Ganum as the city looks to replace current Manager John Hodgson.

Ganum, a Detroit native, talked about how he came to St. Joe as a young planner for the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission many years ago and decided he wanted to stay in the area. He described the position he’s seeking as a dream opportunity.

Hackworth talked about her 13 years with New York City government and challenges she addressed there, as well as work she’s done since coming to St. Joseph.

Commissioners were left with a tough choice. Mayor Brook Thomas reflected on the strengths of the two candidates and their experience.

Juan was able to talk about the specifics of how he would get engaged with the local school system, and that was interesting to see how he’s cultivating this community-wide appreciation for the city,” Thomas said. “But then I also liked, on Emily’s side, her very concrete answers, very detailed answers, on the experience she’s had. I could almost envision exactly what she was talking about.”

During post-interview deliberations, commissioners described Ganum as a visionary, while they described Hackworth as someone who gets things done. Commissioner Michael Sarola said he needed to sleep on the decision, wishing the city could have both.

Commissioners then agreed to reconvene Thursday to make a decision.

Ganum has been Bridgman City Manager since 2015. Hackworth will have been with St. Joe for two years come November.

John Hodgson is retiring, and his last day with the city will be in late September.

Pictured: Hackworth (left) and Ganum (right).