One day after he took part in the Crookston City Council's interviews of four candidates hoping to be hired as the city's new administrator, Interim City Administrator Pat Kelly told the Times Thursday that he's confident the council will eventually offer the position to one of the four who interviewed Wednesday.
He made that prediction after he was asked if he saw any scenario, in the wake of the interviews of Shannon Stassen, Brian Heck, Barbara Hoyhtya and Andrew Marquardt, in which the council would decide to go back to the drawing board by re-advertising the position. Mayor Dave Genereux had previously described the 10 who applied for the position as inexperienced and “relatively weak.”
"I think if we would have decided that, that decision would have been made when the council met right after the interviews," Kelly said. "But I'm not getting that sense; I'm getting the sense that there is probably more than one candidate the council would be leaning toward. I do see a candidate being offered the position out of that group."
Given that, Kelly said, when the council gathered after Wednesday afternoon's final interview in the city hall conference room, the discussion focused on utilizing the Crookston Police Department to conduct necessary background checks, having some council members make reference calls, and also potentially having some council members travel to cities in which the four interviewees have worked previously to see and hear for themselves how they were perceived.
"I know that part has been discussed and there's a desire to do that," Kelly said.
Genereux stressed Wednesday that the council is going to take it's time and do all of the necessary due diligence before offering anyone the job, which has been filled by Kelly, the public works director, on an interim basis since Tony Chladek's administrator contract was terminated by the council this past summer after he was on the job for around 18 months.
The council leaned heavily on a search consultant to lead the process that brought in 44 applicants and resulted in Chladek's hiring. This time, the council is is leading the effort and is trying to model the process after the one that led to the hiring of Aaron Parrish, Chladek's predecessor who excelled in the position for seven years before resigning to become administrator in Forest Lake, Minn.
Kelly said it's estimated the background checks will take a week to two weeks. At that time, he said he envisions the council narrowing the field of four to two and maybe even one finalist. The goal remains to have a new administrator on the job in January 2014.
Page 2 of 2 - The interviewees are:
• Shannon Stassen, the current president and CEO of the Crookston Chamber of Commerce and executive director of the United Way of Crookston. Before taking the reins of those two agencies, he was best known as being the longtime head football coach at the University of Minnesota Crookston.
• Barbara Hoyhtya of Hector, Minn. She has experience as city administrator there, and interviewed for the city administrator position in Tracy, Minn. this past summer. She also has prior stints as city administrator in the Minnesota towns of Lanesboro and Canby.
• Brian Heck of Plymouth, Minn. He was most recently city administrator in Shorewood, Minn., from June 2008 until March 2012. His most recent administrative post was as interim city administrator in Thief River Falls from Oct. 2012 to Jan. 2013. He currently lists himself as a self-employed project management and mediation consultant in Minneapolis.
• Andrew Marquardt, a management intern for the City of East Grand Forks who's working toward his masters degree at the University of North Dakota. He earned his bachelors degree in 2012 from UND in political science with a minor in public administration.