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Council selects six candidates for first round of interviews for administrator's position

WILLMAR -- Willmar City Council members have selected six people for the first round of candidate interviews for the position of city administrator. The interviews are slated April 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.

Council members made the selections and set the interview dates by consensus during an informal two-hour work session Wednesday evening with Sharon Klumpp, senior vice president of Springsted Inc. of St. Paul.

Springsted was hired by the council last December to assist the council in the search for a candidate to replace longtime City Administrator Michael Schmit.

He will be retiring on July 31 after serving the city for 36 years, including 20 as administrator.

Council members had received resumes and written information on experience, education and other background about each candidate from Springsted before the work session.

Rather than name the candidates, Klumpp and council members referred to the candidates by number because the identities and specific employment locations are considered private data by law until the candidates agree to be interviewed, according to Klumpp and City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday.

Later, Klumpp told the Tribune that she will be calling the candidates and she thought the names could be released today.

Springsted received 44 applications. Klumpp said she conducted telephone interviews and recommended nine candidates for the council to consider. Council members added a 10th name to the list that Klumpp had not recommended.

"We try to do a thorough job in talking with people and providing a recommendation. We want the council to understand that it's their process and if they want to go a little bit different direction, we're here to facilitate that,'' she said.

By a show of hands, council members narrowed the list to six for interviews: one candidate received 8 votes; three candidates received 6 votes each; and two candidates received 5 votes each.

Klumpp said the search process began in January with talking to individual council members and city department heads and meeting with about 20 people invited by Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce President Ken Warner to a community focus group.

Klumpp said focus group participants were very engaged.

"It's been nice because I've had the ability to talk with various candidates and tell them how engaged the community here is, which is always a plus,'' she said.

Klumpp said council members and community members want candidates who have a breadth of experience and knowledge about municipal functions. They expressed interest for people who were well-versed in finance, economic development, human resources and had a sense of collaboration.

"There are lots of changes going on in government and most local governments are responding by finding new ways to work with others,'' said Klumpp.

"There is also a group that is looking at what can be done to be more efficient or asking questions about the desired service delivery or alternatives. I asked those questions to get at people who could bring that to the job,'' she said.

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