Galesburg Mayor Peter Schwartzman has chosen John Schlaf as the Galesburg interim City Manager. It is anticipated a contract with Schlaf will be included on the Sept. 5, 2023, City Council agenda, and his first day at City Hall will be Wednesday, Sept. 6.
“I am very happy to appoint John Schlaf to be our interim City Manager,” Mayor Schwartzman said in a city release. “He has a vast knowledge of our city, having spent nearly all of his professional life serving in a variety of important positions. He has exhibited exemplary leadership skills while performing these duties. We very much look forward to his leadership during this transitional period.”
In mid-June, the Galesburg City Council approved (5-to-1) a severance agreement with former City Manager Gerald Smith, who was hired last fall after serving that role in Maquoketa, Iowa, among a 25-year career in public administration.
The severance agreement gave him 20 weeks compensation to leave immediately, equal to about $75,000 including salary and accrued vacation.
Schlaf is very familiar with leadership for Galesburg, having been employed with the Galesburg Police Department for 39 years, 17 of those years as police chief, the release said.
In addition to his time working for the city, Schlaf served in the United States Air Force for six years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement administration from Western Illinois University and also served on the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board from 1996 – 2020.
After his retirement as Galesburg police chief, Schlaf was the Director of Campus Safety for Knox College from 2006 – 2015. He has also been active in the community, serving on the Galesburg Downtown Council from 2005 – 2016, and Knox County Mental Health Board from 2017 – present, the release said.
“Please know that I am both honored and humbled by the appointment,” Schlaf said in the release. “I am excited as we move through the transition period with Mr. Wayne Carl, department heads, and staff in the days ahead and look forward to the opportunity to work with the Mayor and Council as we continue to move the city forward on all fronts.”
Schlaf is accepting the reins as Galesburg’s top administrator after a series of changes in leadership since Todd Thompson departed in May of 2022 to accept the position of Rock Island City Manager. At that time, Wayne Carl served as the interim City Manager until the hiring of Gerald Smith as City Manager in November 2022.
After the separation agreement with Smith, Steve Gugliotta served as acting City Manager until Wayne Carl was again hired in July 2023 to serve as interim City Manager. Carl will continue to serve as the interim manager through Sept. 8, 2023, in order to further a smooth transition and provide a partial week of overlap and collaboration with Schlaf, the city release said.
The Galesburg City Council continues to work with GovHR for the recruitment and selection of a permanent City Manager. It is anticipated that the contract with Schlaf will be included on the Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, City Council agenda. Upon approval, Schlaf will immediately begin service and continue in that role until a permanent City Manager has been selected and takes office.