Johnnie Burns named interim village manager
- Published: August 7, 2023
By a unanimous vote at a special Village Council meeting Monday morning, Aug. 7, Yellow Springs Public Works Director Johnnie Burns was appointed interim village manager, effective Monday, Aug. 28.
Burns will succeed Josué Salmerón, who announced his resignation July 21 from the position he’s held since 2019. Salmerón is poised to move to Greenbelt, Maryland, to serve as the city manager there beginning in early September.
A longtime Xenia resident, Burns has worked for the Village since 2014, when he was hired as the electric superintendent; he became public works director in 2018.
“I’m up for the challenge,” Burns told Council members Monday morning. “I love the village, the staff, the residents. I think I’ve got a good grasp on what needs to be done, and I’ll keep leading the team until the final decision [to appoint a permanent manager] has been made.”
Council Vice President Kevin Stokes said that one of the key factors in Burns’ appointment as interim manager — in addition to his familiarity with the village — was the necessity of maintaining the “momentum” of ongoing municipal projects, making an internal hire the best move.
“We don’t want to interrupt that momentum,” Council President Brian Housh said. “ We’ve got a strong team and a great culture. There’s a reason we have a Council-manager form of government: Both sides inform each other to make the best decisions for the community.”
With a formal contract with Burns set to be penned later this month, Stokes briefly detailed the expected timeline leading up to the appointment of a permanent manager, with Burns likely to fill the interim village manager role through the middle of 2024.
Stokes said he, Housh, Salmerón and other Village leaders took into consideration not only the time it takes to conduct a formal search for a permanent replacement, but also the upcoming November election, at which time the makeup of Council is certain to change. Council member Marianne MacQueen is stepping down from her seat, and Carmen Brown and Gavin DeVore Leonard are up for re-election.
“It’s prudent for the next few years to be owned by the Council that will be seated in January 2024,” Stokes said. “Therefore, we decided to do an interim position of six months, and at that point, we will possibly begin the search for the permanent position. Internal, external, national, do-it-ourselves, hiring a consultant — all of those options are available.”
Housh noted that village manager searches typically take six months — meaning that Burns could occupy the interim position for nearly a year. Despite that lengthy interim period, Housh said he was confident that the position was falling into capable hands.
“Johnnie’s got the skills,” he said. “I’ve appreciated his longevity, all his perspective. He interacts well with the community and really understands the village. These are all reasons why I think his appointment makes sense.”
Recognizing Burns’ decade-long work for Yellow Springs public works, and handling much of the “on-the-ground, nuts-and-bolts” municipal projects, MacQueen agreed.
DeVore Leonard also expressed his support for Burns’ appointment, but had some concerns about “managing expectations, capacity and responsibilities.”
“The assumption is that Johnnie will maintain his primary responsibilities for public works — and that’s a big, full-time job,” he said. “Village management itself is a big, full-time job. We ought to have check-ins and actively talk to make sure he doesn’t feel overwhelmed.”
DeVore Leonard concluded his remarks with a direct address to village residents: “This is a moment of change for our community. This is a great time to give input — if you think something should be better or remain the same. Talk to us. We are particularly open to change, and now is a good opportunity.”
The News will continue to provide updates on Burns’ appointment as interim village manager, the upcoming search for a permanent manager as well as Josué Salmeron’s departure. The next Village Council meeting is Monday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m.
Salmerón appointed Greenbelt, Maryland, city manager
Greenbelt City Council announced its selection of Salmerón as Greenbelt’s newest manager during a Wednesday, Aug. 2, special Council meeting. The city, in a northeast suburb of metropolitan D.C., has a population of 25,000.
“Council is excited to welcome Mr. Salmerón to Greenbelt,” Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan said following the group’s unanimous approval. “In making this choice, we solicited input from the public and conducted an extensive national search.”
Mayor Jordan said Salmerón was one of 70 individuals who applied for the job before the Jan. 30 deadline. Per the city manager job description, the position receives an annual salary up to $185,000. As reported in the Greenbelt News Review, Salmerón told Greenbelt residents at a meet-and-greet earlier this summer that he intends to focus on housing, social equity and stormwater infrastructure.
Salmerón was also in the running for the city manager position in Huber Heights, according to a recent Dayton Daily News article.
Salmerón’s last day as Yellow Springs’ village manager is Sunday, Sept. 3. Salmerón, an Antioch College graduate, was in his fourth year as the village’s 10th full-time manager when he resigned.
As stated in the July 21 resignation letter he sent to Yellow Springs Council members, Salmerón will offer his support to the village remotely through Sept. 17 to ensure a smooth transition and to train Burns as his interim successor.