Schor promotes top city executive as second deputy mayor

Harkins loses ‘chief of staff’ title, Tate nets a $10k salary increase

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TUESDAY, June 30 — Lansing Mayor Andy Schor is reshuffling staff this week, sliding “chief of staff” duties away from Deputy Mayor Samantha Harkins to Nik Tate, who will be promoted this week from chief administrative officer to the newly created role of Deputy Mayor for Operations.

Schor, in a press release, said the move is based purely on enhancing operational efficiencies.

“I have appointed Nik to deputy mayor for operations in order to ensure that my office and all city departments are running as efficiently as possible,” Schor said in a statement. “I am making changes within my office to continue to improve the way that we serve Lansing residents.”

Harkins will stay on as deputy mayor for policy initiatives and will continue to serve as an executive assistant to the mayor, but will instead be focused on a more ambiguous list of projects like partnerships, legislative work and strategic economic and community development.

Tate will oversee all internal operations, including management of Schor’s staff and department directors and resolving day-to-day issues including finance, labor, human resources and more. As a result, his salary will climb from about $98,000 to about $108,000 annually, officials said.

Tate was hired by the city as an assistant city attorney in 2017 and moved to the Mayor’s Office in 2018, initially serving as chief labor negotiator. In 2019, he was also appointed to serve as Lansing’s chief administrative officer. Schor touted his “problem solving and leadership” skills.

Before working for Lansing, Tate worked in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. He has a law degree from Howard Law School, in Washington, D.C., and serves as senior defense counsel in the 22nd Legal Operational Detachment in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Schor’s office has come under renewed criticism recently for fostering an allegedly toxic work environment aimed primarily at African American employees and department heads. Schor has since pledged that his office will undergo implicit racial bias training later this year.

Tate, a Black man, will help oversee the bulk of those day-to-day operational issues in Lansing.

The adjustment also arrived one day after Shelbi Frayer, the city’s chief strategic officer and acting finance director, announced she was quitting next week after less than a year on the job. Schor said she was leaving to spend more time with her family and “branch out on her own.”

The city’s deputy finance director, Jake Brower, will now be the third person to serve as interim finance director during the last nine months as the city continues to face financial challenges.

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