WILLMAR — When asked how her first day as the new Willmar City Administrator went, Leslie Valiant described it in one word.

"A whirlwind, but it was good," Valiant said during Monday's Willmar City Council meeting. "Staff was wonderful, as I imagined they would be."

Valiant was hired as the city administrator on June 27.

"I appreciate the chance. The opportunity is wonderful," Valiant said.

Prior to taking the top administration job in Willmar, Valiant served as the Spicer city administrator, a post she had held since April 2009. Before that, she had worked as a finance technician for St. Joseph and as a senior accounts clerk for Litchfield Public Utilities. All totaled, she has 39 years of experience working in and for Minnesota cities.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

In an interview with the West Central Tribune after Monday's meeting, Valiant said that in her first few weeks, she will be focusing on the capital improvement plan and hiring staff, including the possibility of bringing on an assistant administrator.

"We do have other positions that are open too. There are a few that need to be filled yet," Valiant said.

She will also be meeting individually with the council members and staff as she learns the ins and outs of her new city.

"Staff have been very helpful. I am really appreciative of the staff. They are awesome," Valiant said.

Valiant applied for the open Willmar administrator job in early June, after the City Council's first finalist decided against taking the position. She was interviewed by the council, city staff and members of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce on June 22.

At the same time the City Council was celebrating Valiant's start, they also took a few moments to appreciate the six weeks that John Harren, general manager of Willmar Municipal Utilities, served as the city's interim administrator during the transition period.

"Thank you for stepping up and helping us out," said Councilor Vicki Davis.

Harren said he enjoyed his time as interim administrator and hoped he met the council's expectations to keep the city moving forward as a new administrator was found.

"It has truly been a pleasure," Harren said. "It has been enjoyable working with council and enjoyable working with staff. We had a lot to get done in that short time."

He commended and thanked staff for their help.

"Whoever was the expert always raised their hand and said 'I can answer that, I can help you with that.' A big thank you to staff," Harren said.

Harren received a round of applause from council and staff in appreciation.

"We will forever be grateful to you," Calvin said.