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Fmr. Battle Creek City Mgr. speaks out on vacancies, Mayor responds

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - After the stunning announcement, the Battle Creek City Manager is out the door at the end of the month. Many are worried about the city's future.

In a matter of weeks, the three top city positions are vacant.

First, Assistant City Manager Jim Ritsema left for a job in the city of Kalamazoo.

Last Friday, Jackie Hampton retired after serving as police chief for nearly three years.

Just yesterday, City Manager Ken Tsuchiyama announced to his staff, he's resigning.

There is also another position that may soon be vacant. The Battle Creek Police Department's Deputy Chief recently turned down the position of interim chief, because he's looking for jobs elsewhere.

A former city manager says the city could soon have a crisis on their hands.

"Obviously you don't have a long tenured city manager resign out of the blue without the pressure coming from somewhere," said Rance Leaders, Former City Manager from 1988-1998.

Leaders says the city is staring at a huge problem, with virtually no one at the top all at once.

He believes it could be tough to convince someone to apply for a job with so much uncertainty.

"Who am I going to report to? So, until they have some definitive answer on who the city manager is, I would not be willing to uproot my family and move to the community unless I knew who I was going to work for," said Leaders.

Leaders says after hearing about the closed door meeting the day before Ken Tsuchiyama's abrupt resignation, he'd like to see some changes within the City Commission.

"Most of them to resign. That's what I'd like to see them do cause they don't deserve to be a City Commissioner. It's evident they have their own agenda and the agenda is not in the best interest with the city of Battle Creek. It's unfortunate," said Leaders.

Despite the shake-up, in a city still bouncing back from a rough recession, Battle Creek Unlimited leaders are confident they'll be able to recruit more companies to come into town.

"If there was a void of leadership for a very extended period of time that could become a problem because sometimes were working on projects that are long term in nature. My staff has direct relationships with people to quickly get response from the city or get information," said Karl Dehn, Battle Creek Unlimited CEO.

We reached out to Mayor Dave Walters for comment. He sent us this statement: "I am sad and disappointed that someone I so respected as a City Manager would make such assumptions without knowing any information or attempting to contact me first."

Mayor Walters also mentioned during an interview with Newschannel 3 Wednesday, he looks forward to working with city leaders to make sure this transition runs smoothly.

He also added he hopes the future police chief and city manager will hold themselves accountable while serving for the people of Battle Creek.