Today seems like a good day to officially welcome one of the city of Dexter’s newest employees.
Justin Breyer was hired as the assistant to the city manager last December, and since starting in his position he has been involved in everything from sending out absentee ballots to organizing events like the recent Easter ‘Eggstravaganza’ and the even more recent Border to Border 10K this past Saturday.
His position is part of a new administrative structure in Dexter’s municipal offices. Current City Manager Courtney Nicholls previously served as Assistant Village Manager alongside then City Manager Donna Dettling.
Breyer fell in love with government while working the elections in Troy under City Administrator John Szerlag in 2008, while he was still an undergrad student. Working during the height of the election that would place President Barack Obama in the White House for a first term left an indelible mark on the young man.
“I remember sitting next to someone while serving as a chairperson and she looked over at me and said, ‘You really love this, don’t you?’ he recalled. “I said, ‘Yes – yes I do.'”
Breyer worked every election in Troy until leaving for his new job in Dexter at the end of last year. He’s enjoyed the election work he’s done in Dexter so far. Since becoming a city, Dexter has procured voting machines, ballots and volunteers to manage its own elections and polling places for Dexter municipal residents.
The timing for Breyer’s arrival at his job couldn’t have been more perfect.
“Elections are one of the few things where you get to meet everybody,” Breyer said. “A lot of people vote absentee but there are actually a lot of people who come into the precinct and take pride in coming in to vote. You get to see and say hi to people that you haven’t seen in years, and it’s great.”
Coming off of working elections in Troy before that municipality had transitioned to fully electronic record keeping, Breyer says he really appreciates the desire to improve and innovate that runs deep through every facet of Dexter government.
“That’s one of the things that I praise the people I have been working with here — they actively seek out grants and that’s one thing that a lot of communities don’t do — actively seek out grants to make improvements and the folks here are excellent at finding grants and applying for grants and winning grants, and I think that’s the important part — being able to actually win those grants,” Breyer said.
He recalled a story he heard from colleagues over the years as a good example of his attitude on innovating municipal government.
“Another community manager used to carry around a jar, and if anyone ever said, ‘Well that is the way we’ve always done things,’ then that person would have to put a quarter in the jar,” Breyer said.
Breyer believes that is the right stance to take when operating a local unit of government.
“I think that that is the way that things are going and I think that’s the way things should be going, because it is our responsibility to be the greatest protector of the taxpayer dollar and do the most we can with what we’re given,” he said.