Regional water authority names interim CEO to top spot

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

The regional Great Lakes Water Authority’s board of directors voted Monday to name Sue McCormick as its CEO.

The six-member board voted 5-1 during a special meeting to choose McCormick as the authority’s top administrator, pending the successful negotiation of a contract.

Robert Daddow, chairman of the authority’s board, was the lone vote against the selection. He said he preferred to tap the other candidate for the job, Randy A. Moore. Moore is president of Iowa American Water, the largest investor-owned water utility in Iowa, providing water services to about 195,000 people.

“He’s essentially a change agent,” Daddow, who is also deputy Oakland County Executive, said in the meeting. “I believe this organization needs a change agent.”

Earl Hood, who represents the state on the board, said he thinks McCormick was the right person for the job due to her experience, expertise and reputation.

“I happen to be a big fan of Sue McCormick,” he said. “I feel strongly she’s the right candidate for the job.”

Brian Baker, Macomb County’s representative on the board, said “I think Sue gives us the best opportunity to hit the ground running.”

McCormick has been serving as the authority’s interim CEO. She served as director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s from 2012 to Oct. 7, when the utility’s board of commissioners approved Mayor Mike Duggan’s appointment of Gary Brown to the post.

The regional water authority was created last fall as part of Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring.

In June, the authority agreed to lease Detroit’s water system from the city for $50 million a year for 40 years, plus about $50 million a year toward pension costs and a $4.5 million fund to help struggling residential customers pay their water bills.

Under the lease’s terms, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, as one of the authority’s wholesale customers, will service Detroit’s residents. The authority will provide service to about 3 million customers in the suburbs.

The board overseeing the authority has two voting representatives from Detroit, one each from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and one from the state.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans Monday applauded the authority’s board for choosing McCormick. He said she has the expertise and leadership qualities the authority needs. She also understands the complexities of the region and recognizes the responsibility the authority has to maintain water affordability programs for the disadvantaged residents of our region, he said.

“It was the right decision for the future of our region’s water and sewer system,” Evans said in a statement. “Wayne County looks forward to continuing to work with her.”

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