WILLMAR — The four finalists for the Willmar city administrator position have all lived, worked or learned in the Midwest but have also worked throughout the country and even the world.
The Willmar City Council chose the four potential administrators out of an applicant pool of 15 at a special meeting on Monday. The council had initially chosen five finalists, but one declined to continue with the interview process. Baker Tilly led the national search for Willmar's new administrator.
Current administrator Brian Gramentz will be leaving the city in early June, after serving two years as an administrator.
The first round of interviews with the finalists will begin at 2 p.m. Tuesday, using remote meeting software. A second interview will take place in person. The interviews are public.
The four finalists are Tyler Brooks of South Daytona, Florida, most recently employed as an operations commander for the United States Air Force; Guy Scaife, of Bettendorf, Iowa, most recently the town manager of Thetford, Vermont; Dana L. Schoening of Wichita Falls, Texas, currently the director of planning and operations for Sweetwater, Texas; and Robert J. Wolfington Jr. of Benson, the current city manager of Benson.
The resumes of the finalists were shared with the West Central Tribune.
Since early 2013, Brooks has been serving as a commander in the United States Air Force in multiple operations units. Over that time he has managed more than $250 million in federal assets at one time, developed and managed significant budgets, improved communications, guided more than 50 different projects worth more than $500 million and has managed 10 department directors and 166 employees at one time.
He describes himself as an experienced planner, collaborator, independent problem solver and decision-maker.
Brooks has a Master of Public Administration concentrating on local government from the University of Nebraska - Omaha and a Bachelor of Science in meteorology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
Brooks is currently residing in South Daytona, Florida.
Scaife's career has included military, business and municipal administration. He served four years in the United States Army. He then worked in telecommunications, holding positions at several companies including as director of North American field services and vice president of worldwide customer service for Octel/Lucent and vice president of customer operations and product development for Teloquent.
He started working in municipal administration in 2005, working for five cities across New England including Lisbon and Milford, New Hampshire; Rocky Hill and Meriden, Connecticut; and Thetford, Vermont. In those roles, Scaife created and managed budgets, created efficiencies in city departments, completed technology upgrades and managed hundreds of employees.
His time at a few of the cities was not without controversy. His last administration position in Thetford lasted less than a year, as reported in a column from the Valley News of West Lebanon, New Hampshire, from August 2020. Prior to that he served as the city manager of Meriden. He was hired in August 2016 but was fired in December 2017, according to the Record-Journal in Merdian. Scaife filed a federal wrongful termination lawsuit against the city, which was headed to settlement in January 2021, said a news report from the Record-Journal.
Scaife has a Bachelor of Science in industrial management from the University of Alabama. He also took part in Army officer training and completed management certification programs from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.
Scaife currently lives in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Schoening has more than 20 years of experience in planning and community development, having served as director of those departments in four cities. He was the director of community development in Duncan, Oklahoma, for 15 years until December 2015. He served in similar positions in Abilene, Texas; Wichita Falls, Texas; and most recently in Sweetwater, Texas, over the last five years.
Prior to his time in the South, Schoening worked for the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension as department head and community resource development agent.
His resume describes Schoening as a results-oriented leader, advocate for team building and a strategist. It also notes skills in high-level, research-based analysis for problem-solving.
His educational background includes a Master of Public Administration from Midwestern State University of Wichita Falls, Texas; and a Master of Science in environmental science and policy and a Bachelor of Science in environmental planning from the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
He currently lives in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Wolfington has served as the city manager of Benson since 1996. He also held the position of city administrator for Rushford from 1992 to 1996.
He served in the United States Army from 1979 to 1992. He held various troop and staff assignments including rifle platoon leader, company commander, operations officer and ROTC instructor at the University of Iowa. He also served as the deputy sub-community commander at the Butzbach Military Sub-Community in Germany.
Wolfington's educational background includes a Master of Public Administration from City University of Seattle, a Bachelor of Science in education from Jacksonville State University in Alabama, an associate degree from Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama, and he is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.