Two to be interviewed for Willmar administrator post; third finalist withdraws
WILLMAR -- One of three finalists for the Willmar city administrator job has withdrawn from consideration, leaving two finalists for the Willmar City Council to interview next month.
WILLMAR - One of three finalists for the Willmar city administrator job has withdrawn from consideration, leaving two finalists for the Willmar City Council to interview next month.
The finalist who withdrew, Joseph Helfenberger, former city administrator for Ottumwa, Iowa, has accepted a position in St. Cloud, Florida. Kevin Halliday, interim Willmar city administrator, said Tuesday that Helfenberger’s contract will be approved Thursday.
During a special meeting Monday night, the Willmar City Council selected Helfenberger, along with Matthew Hylen, president of Public Sector Professionals LLC, and Larry Kruse, currently the city administrator for the city of Thief River Falls, for interviews.
The three were selected from a field of nine candidates submitted by Gary Weiers, an associate for David Drown Associates of Minneapolis. Weiers is assisting the council with filling the vacant administrator position.
The council will conduct interviews with the two remaining candidates on Nov. 12 and 13. Interviews will also be conducted by a panel of eight citizens appointed by the council and by city department heads.
Helfenberger had resigned his city administrator position, effective Aug. 31, following a closed city council meeting in June, according to the Ottumwa Courier. Tensions between Helfenberger and some council members ran high in recent months after Helfenberger gave the OK to purchase some new media equipment for the council chambers. Helfenberger was quoted as saying he believed he had been given permission to spend the money. Other council members thought he had overstepped his authority.
Hylen has been employed with Public Sector Professionals for the past nine months. Before that, he was administrator for the city of St. Francis for nine years. While at St. Francis, Hylen was placed on leave for alleged unspecified misconduct in August, according to news media accounts. Hylen was cleared of wrongdoing by an outside investigator hired by the city. Hylen reached a settlement with the city and resigned in December. The allegations against Hylen have not been made public.
Hylen also served as Redwood County coordinator and as city administrator in Luverne and Hector. Hylen holds a master’s degree in urban and regional studies and a bachelor’s degree in business and political science.
Kruse has been Thief River Falls city administrator for two years. Before that, he was administrator for the city of Albertville for nine years. He also served as city administrator for Baxter, Park Rapids and Red Lake Falls. He also has private sector experience. Kruse holds a master’s degree in business management and a bachelor’s degree in business administration.