The Willmar City Council made the right decision to continue the search for a new city administrator and avoid the ill-informed efforts of limiting the search to just local candidates or local search firms
Willmar needs to find the best person available and interested for the position. Period.
Willmar businessman Steve Peppin's call for a litmus test of only hiring a local person and that "hiring for this position outside the community simply hasn't worked" is rather shallow thinking. A geographic location is the sole determination of a city administrator?
Councilperson Rick Fagerlie sought to halt the national search this week in order to give internal candidates a chance. He said that one internal candidate was interested but leery of having to go through the search firm's process.
Really? So the city residents want a locally hired city administrator who is afraid of going through a search firm's review process?
Unfortunately, the Willmar City Council should first look in the mirror for the revolving door on Willmar's city administrator position. Since 2005, Willmar has had four city administrators and two interim administrators. Some City Council members did not like a strong-woman administrator. Other council members did not like one city administrator's management style. A couple of other city administrators have simply retired.
And, in recent years, the City Council's reputation in the region and elsewhere has not been that strong. Many leaders in the region and state look at Willmar and just shake their heads. Why?
The biggest concern has been the City Council's dysfunction over the years and rogue council members driving their own personal or contrarian agendas.
Frankly, serving as the Willmar city administrator has not been an enjoyable or fulfilling position for many years due to the continued dysfunction, micromanagement and personal agendas issue.
Hopefully, the next city administrator will be a strong leader, who can work with and in collaboration with this City Council.
The desired capabilities on the Willmar city administrator brochure are many and important. They include:
- Experience in economic development and fostering business-community relationships.
- Provide leadership to ensure the city's long-term fiscal health through sound budget management and long-range planning.
- Strong understanding of local government roles and responsibilities and a commitment to support and assist the City Council in its policy role.
- Exceptional ability to provide administration insights to the City Council and staff.
- Outstanding communication skills, both orally and in writing, with the ability to interrelate with the public, City Council, city staff and other stakeholders.
- Extensive knowledge of municipal operations and general practices including current developments and innovations relevant to local government.
- Skilled at bringing people together to build partnerships to share resources and address common problems; supports the city's role as a regional center by working collaboratively with other stakeholders.
- The ability to approach every initiative and project in a collaborative manner.
- The ability to respond proactively to opportunities and challenges and encourage new ideas on how municipal services are provided.
- The ability to establish trust quickly with others and relate to all members of the community, genuinely embrace and promote diversity and inclusion and other cultural competencies.
- Have a collaborative and open, friendly personality and management style and establish trust quickly with others; know how to deal with conflict in a constructive manner.
For more on the city administration expectations, look here: bit.ly/WillmarCityAdmin.
This editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune Editorial Board, consisting of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.