BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The City of Battle Creek has paused its hiring process for a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

The city decided on the pause because of community feedback on the candidates after an Aug. 11 presentation. Although members of the community had positive notes about both candidates, concerns lingered over how willing they were to “have a meaningful, physical presence” in Battle Creek and what the role specifically entails.

“In fact, the assistant city manager told me this has nothing to do with the candidates. It has to do with the job description,” said said Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing. “We’ve got excellent candidates, but we want to make sure we make the right hire for the city.”

Battle Creek leaders said they are taking the pause to make time to reflect on the position and its responsibilities moving forward, said a press release.

“We recognized it’s not a traditional 9-to-5,” said Dearing. “These people are going to have to engage not only internally with city staff, but with the community as a whole. That could happen at night. It could happen on the weekends. What availability would the individual have to really be immersed in our community?”

Dearing said this prompted them to pause the hiring process to address those concerns. However, he emphasizes that this is temporary and the city is still committed to the cause.

“(Our stakeholders) have been pushing the city to add a DEI officer for a period of time, as well … I think they understand the pause right now. They understand that we want to get this hire right and I think that they’ll hold us accountable. We’ll hold them accountable to come and do a solution that works for the community,” said Dearing.

Dearing said the city is more than likely to pick up right where they left off with the two candidates, rather than hitting the reset button entirely. It should happen in about mid-October.

The replay from the Aug. 11 event with the DEI Officer candidates is available on the Battle Creek YouTube channel. Check out battlecreekmi.gov/dei for more information and the city’s full Equity Audit report, which was conducted by Florida-based MGT Consulting, Dearing said.