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Kalamazoo gets a new commission and a new City Manager in one night


KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- The 50th Kalamazoo City Commission was sworn in last night, and it looks a lot like the 49th version. That continuity can only help as the commissioners face another multi-million dollar budget deficit and the challenge of trying to do more and more with less.

Every commissioner not only took and oath to uphold the Constitution, but in their comments, pledged to work together despite differences.

It was an unusually historic and rare night for ceremonies at City Hall to swear in a new City Commission and a new city Manager.

That rarely happens together.

And while that may seem like a lot of changes, it’s really not with 6 incumbent commissioners returning including Mayor Bobby Hopewell, the budget proposal for next year well on its way to a final draft and new manager Jim Ritsema is still introducing himself to staff and other community officials.

Ritsema says he feels very welcomed and says so far it’s been more than good.

He will be running the day to day operations of the city, overseeing the departments, trouble shooting problems and making sure they don’t spend more than they have.

Outgoing City Manager Ken Collard and Vice Mayor Hanna McKinney will have some attractive wall hangings to remind them of their service to the city and now they have their Monday nights back.Collard is retiring after a career running first the city’s wastewater treatment facilities, and then the entire city.

McKinney is just retiring from the Commission. She is a Professor at Kalamazoo College and that won’t change.

Last night they received accolades from their colleagues on the commission, a framed montage of pictures of Kalamazoo, a State Legislative Resolution saluting their service and a Key to the City.