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Name of the candidates for Willmar's top position are released

WILLMAR -- A current city employee is among the candidates for the position of Willmar city administrator.

Six candidates were selected Wednesday evening by the Willmar City Council for interviews.

They are Steven Okins, finance director for the city of Willmar; Jeffrey O'Neill, administrator for the city of Monticello; James Payne, partner in Precision Organizing and Records Management, Rio Rancho, N.M.; Jeffrey Repp, administrator for the city of Cumberland, Md.; Charlene Stevens, assistant manager of Sedgwick County, Wichita, Kan.; and J. Crystal Prentice, Waseca city manager.

The names were released Thursday afternoon by Sharon Klumpp, senior vice president of Springsted Inc. of St. Paul, the firm assisting the council in the candidate search. The six were selected by council members from a list of nine recommended by Klumpp.

Current administrator Michael?Schmit will retire this summer.

Council members agreed to select five of the recommended candidates and picked one that had not been recommended by Klumpp.

The consultant said Wednesday she could not release the names of the finalists under data privacy laws until they had been notified of their selection, which was completed Thursday.

Mayor Frank Yanish, who does not have a vote in the matter, said Thursday afternoon that the council did a good job in selecting quality individuals.

"Any of the six is going to be a good choice,'' he said. "I think they made good choices and there are some highly qualified women candidates as well. I think no matter who they pick from those six is going to be good for Willmar.''

The six candidates will be interviewed by the council May 10 and 11. From those interviews, the council will select two finalists for a second interview on May 24. The second round will include community "meet-and-greet'' sessions.

Steven Okins

He has been Willmar finance director from May 1987 to the present. He served as acting finance director from March 1987 to May 1987, and was deputy finance director from September 1986 to March 1987.

In Granite Falls, Okins served as finance director/acting city manager from May 1985 to August 1986, finance director from April 1979 to May 1985, and accounting clerk/bookkeeper from June 1978 to April 1979.

He has an associate degree in governmental accounting from Granite Falls Technical College.

Jeffrey O'Neill

His experience includes serving as Monticello city administrator from October 2007 to the present and as deputy city administrator/community development director from January 1998 to October 2007.

Also, he served as city coordinator for Watertown, Minn., from 1986 to March 1988, and was Coon Rapids city administrative assistant from October 1980 to 1985.

He holds a master's degree in urban and regional studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and a bachelor's degree in political science and criminal justice from Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter.

James Payne

He has been a partner with Precision Organizing and Records Management of Rio Rancho, N.M., from October 2008 to the present. He was city of Rio Rancho manager from June 2007 to September 2008; city administrator for Waukesha, Wis., from June 1999 to June 2007; city business administrator for Franklin, Wis., from November 1986 to May 1999; city administrator for LeMars, Iowa, from March 1982 to November 1986; assistant city manager for Roseville from February 1979 to March 1982; and system coordinator for Local Government Information Systems Association of Brooklyn Center from March 1977 to February 1979. He served as management intern in the Budget and Research Office of Maricopa County, Phoenix, Ariz., from April 1976 to March 1977.

He holds a master's degree in public administration from Arizona State University; a bachelor's degree in modernization processes/political science from the University of Wisconsin; and is a credentialed manager with the International City/County Management Association.

Jeffrey Repp

Repp has served as city of Cumberland, Md., administrator from 1993 to the present. Also, he was manager for the town of Indian Head, Md., from 1988 to 1993; manager for the village of Carlisle, Ohio, from 1986 to 1988; and was assistant to the manager for the city of Vermillion, S.D., from 1985 to 1986.

He holds a master's degree in public administration and public finance and a bachelor's degree in science and history, both from the University of South Dakota.

Charlene Stevens

She has served as assistant county manager for Sedgwick County, Wichita, Kan., from August 2006 to the present. Prior experience includes assistant manager for Lower Gwynedd Township, Spring House, Pa., from July 1999 to August 2006; and assistant manager for Buckingham Township, Buckingham, Pa., from April 1997 to June 1999.

She was a consultant to various municipalities throughout southeastern Pennsylvania from October 1996 to April 1997; was neighborhood assistant to Wichita, Kan., from May 1995 to September 1996; and executive director of La Casa Latina Inc., in Sioux City, Iowa, from November 1990 to May 1994.

She holds a master of public administration degree from the University of Kansas and a bachelor's degree in international relations from Pomona College, Claremont, Calif.

Other education includes coursework in Latin American politics, Columbian history and sociology, and Spanish. She is a credentialed manager with the International City/County Management Association.

J. Crystal Prentice

She has served as manager for Waseca since January 2008. She previously served as St. Charles administrator from August 2005 to May 2007; and neighborhood programs administrator for the city of Chandler, Ariz., from January 2003 to July 2005. In Mesa, Ariz., she served as management assistant II from 2001 to 2003 and neighborhood outreach coordinator from 1998 to January 2001.

She holds a master's degree in public administration from Arizona State University and a bachelor's degree in social science from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150