Willmar's city administrator pursues position in City of Lakeville
WILLMAR -- Willmar City Administrator Charlene Stevens has announced to Mayor Frank Yanish and City Council members that she is one of three finalists for the position of city administrator for the city of Lakeville.
WILLMAR - Willmar City Administrator Charlene Stevens has announced to Mayor Frank Yanish and City Council members that she is one of three finalists for the position of city administrator for the city of Lakeville.
Lakeville is a suburb 23 miles south of downtown Minneapolis in Dakota County.
In an email sent Wednesday morning, Stevens said interviews will be held next week.
“I have always been purposeful with my career and open to opportunities for professional growth and development,’’ Stevens said.
“The city of Lakeville is one of the most rapidly growing communities in Minnesota and as such offers some interesting challenges for an administrator,’’ she said. “Willmar is a great community and my family and I enjoy it here, but feel this is an opportunity I need to further explore and consider.’’
The Lakeville city website said that out of more than 40 applicants, Stevens and two others were selected Monday night by the City Council for further interviews and screenings.
The other finalists are Justin J. Miller, city administrator of Mendota Heights, and Eric S. Hanson, city manager of Indianola, Iowa.
“The extensive search helped us find three outstanding finalists,’’ said council member Colleen LaBeau, who serves on the Personnel Committee. Her comments were posted on the Lakeville city website. “We feel these finalists each offer the skills, knowledge and leadership qualities we expect in our new city administrator.’’
The website said Lakeville residents will have an opportunity to meet the finalists during a public forum next Wednesday night at City Hall.
“This forum will allow members of the community to meet and interact with each of the candidates and then provide their input to the council,’’ said council member Bart Davis, who also serves on the Personnel Committee. “Comments from those attending will be taken into account by the council as they make their final selection.’’
Stevens has been Willmar city administrator since August 2011, filling the position vacated by the retirement of longtime administrator Michael Schmit. Stevens was assistant county manager in Sedgwick County, Kansas, for five years before moving to Minnesota.
In addition to responding to questions from the Lakeville City Council, each candidate will present a one-page plan for addressing organizational change and briefly discuss strategies to implement them into the workplace that includes 185 full-time employees, according to the Lakeville newspaper Sun Thisweek.
Also, each finalist will tour the city with interim City Administrator Allyn Kuennen. The newspaper quoted Springsted search consultant Dave Unmacht as saying council members are expected to make an offer to one of the candidates by Nov. 3 and take action on the hire at a subsequent meeting.
The salary range is set between $134,414 and $161,295 plus benefits, according to an advertisement for the position.
Lakeville City Council members began searching for a new administrator in July after Steve Mielke resigned to become lead Dakota County’s physical development division.
Beverly Dougherty, project coordinator for Willmar Downtown Development (formerly the Willmar Design Center), said a city that hires Stevens would “be a lucky progressive city who wants to grow, bring all people along and provide real leadership. Charlene has been a shining light since the day she arrived in Willmar. I wish her the very best wherever she lands, and that place is one very lucky place.’’
The relationship between Stevens and Yanish has not been good. Yanish surprised council members during a council retreat one year ago by saying that he was advised by City Attorney Robert Scott not to talk to Stevens.