County’s No. 2 Administrator Resigns

David Behen, deputy county administrator, to leave by end of May
David Behen, right, talks with Gene DeRossett before Thursdays working session of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.

David Behen, right, talks with Gene DeRossett before Thursday's working session of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.

David Behen, one of Washtenaw County’s two deputy county administrators, has resigned and will leave his job at the end of May. Washtenaw County commissioners and department heads were informed of the decision in an email sent Thursday morning from county administrator Bob Guenzel. In that email, Guenzel stated that he does not plan to fill the position after Behen’s departure.

The county is struggling to balance its budget in the wake of declining revenues and a projected $26 million deficit over the next two years. Behen’s salary is $144,000 – the total compensation for that position, including benefits, is roughly $200,000.

Behen told The Chronicle that it was his decision to leave and that he has other opportunities. “Maybe by me leaving, I save someone else’s job,” he said. He said he’s been contemplating the decision for a while.

Behen joined the county administration in 1999 as a management analyst and has been promoted several times over the years. In late 2002 he was named director of information technology, and was promoted to deputy county administrator in early 2007. His responsibilities in that role cover the county’s support services, economic development and land use. He also acts as a liaison to the public defender’s office and public safety and justice departments. The other deputy county administrator is Verna McDaniel.

In 2007, Behen was named to Crain’s Detroit Business 40 under 40, a listing that recognizes young community leaders in southeast Michigan. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Eastern Michigan University and is involved in several community groups. He is a board member for the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce and on the leadership team for the Ann Arbor Region Success initiative. An Ypsilanti Township resident, he also has a leadership role in the Eastern Leaders Group and led a recent meeting to kick off a revitalization plan for that part of the county.

In his email to commissioners, Guenzel praised Behen’s work with the county. ”David has had many accomplishments over his ten years with the County and has had a tremendously positive impact on the organization and within the community, and for that, we will miss him. Personally, I  have appreciated his leadership, hard work and support. I wish him the best in his endeavors and I’m confident that David will go on to do great things.”

Behen said he plans to take some time off but will remain in this area.

Section: Govt.

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  1. By Leah Gunn
    May 8, 2009 at 6:47 am | permalink

    David is an outstanding young man who will be sorely missed. It is very sad to lose someone with such talent and promise, and I know he will do well wherever he goes.

  2. By Richard
    May 8, 2009 at 4:29 pm | permalink


    That is an odd comment. If he has such “talent and promise”, why is the County letting him go? Especially in such difficult economic times.

    Talk about damning with faint praise…

  3. By Mary Morgan
    May 8, 2009 at 6:52 pm | permalink

    Lloyd Powell, Washtenaw County’s public defender, passed along this message that he asked to be posted here:

    There is a tide in the affairs of men
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

    Omitted, all the voyage of their life

    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

    On such a full sea are we now afloat,

    And we must take the current when it serves,

    Or lose our ventures.

    – Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

    To Deputy County Administrator David Behen:


    I’m sure that you have taken the tide at the flood and seized the opportunity to accept an offer you couldn’t refuse (especially as a young man with a very young family) but it still breaks our hearts to see you leave – especially mine.

    Congratulations and VIVA David Behen!

    Your friend for life,


  4. By May
    May 12, 2009 at 9:04 am | permalink

    I am happy that Mr. Behen has an chance to go out and earn even more money. Personally, I think any county position that is payed ($144,000 including benefits, roughly $200,000. or more) should take a cut to at least $100,000 especially when people who loose their jobs in the county are the lower paid group. That salary and benefits is easily 3 or 4 of the lower paid. Also, remember, that Non-Union employees received up to a 3% raise while Union employee received no raise in 2008 and 0.05 (yes, 0.05) raise this year. Stop jumping on the little folks, people, start making those in charge responsible.