Mayor notes that the pool is ‘relatively weak’ and ‘not the quality you might want’
The Crookston City Council Ways & Means Committee Wednesday evening ranked the 10 applicants seeking to be the city's new administrator and picked the top four, whom they hope to interview on Wednesday, Oct. 23. The applicant ranked fifth highest will be an interview alternate, in the event that any of the top four withdraw from consideration.
Interim Administrator Pat Kelly said the names of the applicants the city is looking to interview will be publicly named once they agree to be interviewed. Wednesday, they were simply identified by an assigned number, 1 through 10.
The #9 applicant was highest ranked by council members and Mayor Dave Genereux, followed by the #6 applicant, and the #4 and #5 applicants, who tied in the rankings. The #10 applicant is the alternate.
Genereux described the applicant pool as "relatively weak and inexperienced" and lacks "the quality you might want." Kelly didn't necessarily disagree with that, but noted that "experience can be a two-edged sword" because someone with 30 years of experience can get pretty set in his or her ways. "If you get someone really fired up and eager to go, I think something positive could result," Kelly said, noting that Aaron Parrish, who resigned to take a position in Forest Lake in late 2011 after seven largely successful years as city administrator in Crookston, was 27 years old when he was hired here.
The council voted to terminate the contract of Tony Chladek as city administrator this past summer, after he'd been on the job around a year and a half. The process that resulted in Chladek's hiring was driven by a search consultant firm and drew 44 applicants. The process prior to that, however, which resulted in Parrish's hiring, was largely led by the council. Kelly told council members Wednesday that he's trying to model that process as much as he can, even when it comes to the questions the applicants will be asked during the interviews. "I'm trying to tailor it to something similar to when Aaron was hired, which was a council-driven hire," Kelly said.
Council members discussed the process of checking references and doing other background checks on the applicants, with At Large Council Member Wayne Melbye expressing concern that only people with human resources experience do the checking to make sure that no one asks any questions of anyone that they aren't supposed to. "I would certainly hate to have something go horse-hockey on us," he said.
To that, Ward 1 Council Member Tom Jorgens said he'd already done some informal checking on the applicants, via the Internet. He noted that two of the applicants the council hopes to interview "would really need some further scrutiny." Jorgens added that "this is information that's readily available."
It's likely that a "meet-and-greet" open to the public will be scheduled for an hour or so the evening prior to the interviews, on Tuesday, Oct. 22. The Crookston Inn & Convention Center is the most likely venue.