Brake to become new city manager


The City of Delaware has identified its next city manager to succeed Tom Homan following his retirement next month.

During the June 12 meeting of the Delaware City Council, Paul Brake was formally introduced as the hire, ending a national search that was narrowed to four finalists last month. His hire will go into effect on Aug. 1, although he will be in Delaware in July to spend time with Homan and begin the process of getting acclimated to his new home.

“I am excited to be part of the team and to join a dynamic community and organization, and hit the ground running,” Brake told The Gazette last week.

Brake most recently served as the city manager of Royal Oak, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. There, he oversaw more than 400 employees and a total operating budget of approximately $220 million. He has also made stops as a city or county manager in Morgantown, West Virginia; Grand Blanc, Michigan; and Shiawassee County, Michigan.

Brake also has experience in economic development as a certified economic developer and is a credentialed manager of the International City/County Management Association.

While he’d driven past Delaware along U.S. Route 23 before (enroute to visit family in Columbus), Brake said it was a trio of factors he saw while spending time in the city during the interview process that took hold of him.

“Going through the interview process on-site, really there were three main convincing factors,” Brake said. “I did a little bit of due diligence on the front end but being there in person and observing and talking to individuals (is different). The first convincing factor was the vibrancy of the community. I came down on a Wednesday right before graduation at Ohio Wesleyan University. Granted, it was beautiful weather, but the number of people who were downtown and all the restaurants that have outdoor seating, it was packed. So, I just noted the vibrancy there, and I visited the parks and the community center at the YMCA.

“Number two, I would say, is the united support the city receives from the community organizations, whether it’s the university, Delaware County, the planning agency, Delaware City Schools, there are a number of groups, and it shows the strength and the fortitude to move the community together in a path or direction.”

The third factor, Brake said, was the internal strength of the city organization with its elected leadership and senior executive staff.

“They did a pretty extensive interview where we met with pretty much all of the department directors,” he said. “It’s a very, very solid staff. I’ve told Tom (Homan) this, that much of that is attributable to the people he’s handpicked over the years. It’s just a very solid organization, and I was thoroughly impressed with it.”

Brake is set to take over leadership of Delaware at a pivotal time as the city prepares to head back to the ballot in hopes of garnering support for an income tax increase to address its revenue shortfall. Despite his general unfamiliarity with the community, Brake said the importance of the city’s ballot initiative is not lost on him, nor is it something he’s without experience in handling.

“I have undertaken similar endeavors,” Brake said. “I’m not going to make any guarantees, but I’ve had that community-wide conversation to support the growing in order to maintain the quality of services. We’re really at a crossroads (in Delaware), and I think I can bring in a new perspective and relay the information to the voters so they can make an educated decision and realize what the consequences are if there’s not the commitment to making that sort of investment … I’m used to working in that type of environment where there are high stakes involved, and then achieving a positive outcome.”

Brake said he touts himself as a “servant leader,” a title he believes consists of a “number of variables” including listening, being present in the building, and perhaps even healing at times. He added that bringing about innovative change is about awareness, showing foresight, and persuasion, especially in the early stages as relationships are still being forged.

He added, “I think my style of bringing about change is a good fit for the organization. I think they were looking for that, and that’s what I conveyed in the interview process. And then recognizing that some of what you would call ‘pain points’ for the mayor and city council, I’ve been there and done that and worked in the trenches and been able to bring about a positive outcome.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on X @DillonDavis56.

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