Timeline in place for Willmar administrator search

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council took a step forward in the search for a new city administrator, approving the position profile, along with a timeline and new search subcommittee.


WILLMAR - The Willmar City Council took a step forward in the search for a new city administrator, approving the position profile, along with a timeline and new search subcommittee.

"We'll have a plan in mind on how we'd like to go forward with this search," said Gary Weiers, of David Drown Associates, who is leading the search.

David Drown Associates also conducted the administrator search that ended in the hiring of former administrator Larry Kruse. Because Kruse worked only nine months, resigning in September, David Drown Associates is conducting this search without charging the city.

Weiers presented the position profile at Monday's council meeting. The profile outlines the position and gives highlights about the city of Willmar, including its economic development opportunities, health care businesses, education and recreational activities. The profile document is similar to what was used in the last search, though there have been updates to the graphics and narrative, including sharing that the Industrial Park is shovel-ready.

The profile says the city of Willmar is looking for a city administrator with a salary range of $115,000 to $135,000.


The council decided to update the years of experience the council will be seeking in a candidate. During the last search there was a required minimum of 10 years of experience in management and supervisory roles.

"It will limit the number of candidates," Weiers said.

This time the council prefers at least five years of experience.

"You're going to get more of a variety, more choices. It is too narrow if you go with the 10 years," Willmar Human Resources Director Bridget Buckingham said.

The city will require at least a bachelor's degree in public administration, political science, business administration, finance or other closely related field. Other preferred qualifications include a master's degree in public administration and demonstrated knowledge and ability to work with municipal departments and entities.

Weiers said the plan is to open the application window for the position in early December and last into early January.

A subcommittee made up of the mayor, mayor pro tem, human resources director, interim city administrator and Weiers will review all the applicants.

"I feel that is a healthy mix of people," Councilman Andrew Plowman said.


With this subcommittee, members of the council will have a chance to see all the applicants, unlike the last search when Weiers alone reviewed the applicants before bringing them to the council.

"I wouldn't be the decision-maker, but I wouldn't be out of the loop," Weiers said.

The full City Council will decide on the finalists at the Jan. 17 regular meeting.

Finalists will be interviewed the second week of February. Weiers recommends the interviews take place in a special meeting. He did ask the council to think about how they would like the interview process to go.

All the council members, minus Shawn Mueske, were on the council during the last search for an administrator and Weiers wants to know what went right and what was not successful.

"There isn't a wrong or right way to do this," Weiers said, adding the interview process should be finalized in January.

After the interviews, the council will choose to whom it makes an offer and Weiers will then negotiate with the selected finalist.

"The goal is to have someone in place, on the job, in early March," Weiers said.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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