The assessment on the street: Interesting.

    The assessment on the street: Interesting.   

    That’s what seems to be most popular term used to describe the four individuals who interviewed last week to be the City of Crookston’s new administrator. It’s an “interesting” group.   

    No matter how accurate that description is or isn’t, each interviewee would seem to offer something that the others don’t. But the question for the Crookston City Council is, do they want what’s being offered?   

    This is a crucial hire for the council. They fired Tony Chladek after he was on the job for about 18 months, and most of that year and a half was tense, awkward and uncomfortable because it was clear early on that there were council members who realized quickly that hiring Chladek was a mistake and they wanted him gone.    

    Chladek was hired after a process led by a slick, smooth-talking consultant, a process that attracted 44 applicants. The council went a different route this time around and their consultant-less process drew 10 applicants, described by Mayor Dave Genereux as “relatively weak” and inexperienced.   

    Do they hire Barbara Hoyhtya? She has a last name with local ties, and has kind of bounced around from administrative job to administrative job at several small Minnesota cities.    

    How about Brian Heck? Those that met him during the meet and greet and interview report he’s articulate, bright and chatty, both in person and on the Internet. But, like Chladek, he’s also several months removed from his last full-time city administrator job, which ended in a “separation agreement” with the City of Shorewood, a Twin Cities suburb.    

    How about Andrew Marquardt? Nothing against him, but he’s still a student, pursuing his master’s degree, and is a management “intern” for the City of East Grand Forks. Being at the City of Crookston helm would seem to require a bit more experience than Marquardt possesses at this juncture of his young career.   

    That leaves Shannon Stassen. He’s done very well leading the Crookston Chamber and United Way of Crookston since he was hired in 2010, but does that success, preceded by several years as the football coach at the U of M Crookston, make him the best choice to be city administrator?   

    Indeed, it’s an interesting, crucial choice. And, given what’s gone down with the council and administrator position over the past 18 months or so, even more intriguing than observing how the new administrator slides into the role will be watching how the counci reacts to the new person who’s handed the city’s reins.   

    This is a hire that needs to reap rewards for the community for years to come, not more uneasiness, conflict and, eventually, turnover.