Charlotte City Manager Gregg Guetschow was recognized for his 40 years of service in local government at the Nov. 25 city council meeting. State Rep. Angela Witwer presented him with a framed proclamation signed by herself, Sen. Tom Barrett, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II.
The proclamation references Guetschow’s “effectiveness and efficiency in public service” and reflects on the sacrifices he has made on behalf of Charlotte and the other cities where he has worked.
“Charlotte will long benefit from his efforts towards a more resourceful and prosperous city,” reads the document.
As city manager, Guetschow is the chief administrative officer and is responsible for the general oversight of all municipal services for the city. He started with the city of Charlotte over 12 years ago but worked as a city administrator in other communities prior. His cumulative total years in city service is the 40 years referenced in the proclamation.
The average tenure of a city manager, Guetschow explained, is six to seven years, often due to political forces. But he has no plans for moving on or retiring.
“I don’t see myself retiring soon,” Guetschow said. “It’s important work, and I like the people I work with.
“There are still things I want to accomplish, and there are plenty of challenges here to keep me motivated.”
He added there are not many in his field that have lasted 40 years.
Bryan Myrkle, the city’s community development director, explained the job of a city manager is far from easy.
“Most people are not cut out to work under the bright and sometimes harsh light of public scrutiny the way city managers have to,” Myrkle said. “That’s why most do not last very long in individual posts, nor usually for very long as a career before moving on.
“Gregg has been able to do this for 40 years because he is fundamentally honest, capable and practical, and those are qualities that succeed year after year.”
Guetschow grew up in Plainwell, MI, and attended Western Michigan University for his advanced education, culminating in a doctorate in public affairs and administration in 2007.
He started in Charlotte as interim city manager in 2007 and moved into the permanent position in February of 2008. Guetschow has served as city manager in Owosso and Hillsdale and as village manager in Dundee. He began his career when he was only 26 years old.
But it’s not a job for everyone, he pointed out.
“You need to have thick skin, a sense of humor and not take yourself too seriously,” he said.
Guetschow noted his position as city manager has given him the opportunity to serve in other capacities, also. He is active in numerous service organizations, like Rotary, and Charlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity (Can Do!) and serves on several boards and associations.
Ginger Terpstra, Charlotte’s city clerk, said she is glad to be working with Guetschow.
“I have been with the city for nearly 40 years, and it has been a pleasure to work with Gregg,” she said. “We have made some significant software enhancements in the last couple of years with his guidance.”
Guetschow points out that Charlotte has an excellent city council to work with, has had great mayors over the years and employs a solid staff.
“My 40 years happened because I worked with a lot of good people,” Guetschow said. “I don’t do this myself; I’m part of a bigger team.”
He gives credit to the city staff, some who have spent their entire careers employed by the city and who are just as dedicated, he feels. He also credits the community for working together to make Charlotte a great place to live and work.