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City of Crookston City Administrator Search - 1 finalist terminated last month

Mike Christopherson
mchristopherson@crookstontimes.com
Chase Waggoner

    One of the four finalists who will interview here on Aug. 12-13 to be the City of Crookston’s next administrator, Chase Waggoner, was terminated “not for cause” in June as city manager in Williams, Arizona.

    DDA Human Resources, Inc., the consulting firm helping the City in its search for a new administrator, last week identified Waggoner and the other three finalists – Amy Finch, Sally Dufner and Dana Schoening – once they accepted the City’s invite to come here to interview. Liza Donabauer, management consultant with the firm, also included professional biographies of each, and Waggoner’s biography indicates he is still employed as city manager in Williams.

    Waggoner told the Times that when he first applied for the administrator job in Crookston back in early April, he was still employed in Williams, so his professional biography was accurate at that point. The City of Crookston’s first attempt to advertise the position and draw a large, deep pool of applicants was less than successful, and DDA Human Resources, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a primary factor, recommended that none of the applicants at that time be recommended for interviews, and suggested that the City put the brakes on its search for a few weeks and then try again.      

    Waggoner told the Times he applied during the City of Crookston’s first posting of the position, but, once he saw it being posted a second time several weeks later, he chose not to apply again, but decided instead to let his initial application ride and see if he made the cut during the second round. He did, but by the time his name and background were made public last week, he’d been terminated as city manager in Williams on June 11.

    A Google search turned up the story in the Williams-Grand Canyon News announcing Waggoner’s termination. While the city council vote at a special meeting was unanimous, according to the minutes from that meeting, a closed session to get legal advice was necessary prior to the vote because the council member making the motion to terminate Waggoner initially included language indicating the termination was “for cause.” A termination “for cause” means that the affected employee is being fired for significant workplace misconduct. When other council members questioned why the motion was to terminate “for cause,” they went into closed session and, after getting legal counsel, reconvened their meeting and approved a motion terminating Waggoner “not for cause.” A termination “not for cause” means an employee is being let go, but not due to any significant workplace misconduct.

    Waggoner was hired as Williams city manager in September 2019.

    Asked if he was willing to publicly share what transpired in Williams since his hiring less than a year ago, Waggoner noted that he was the fifth city manager employed by the City of Williams in less than five years and “unfortunately, it has become a revolving-door position,” he added.

    Waggoner said the Williams City Council has struggled to find a city manager that “sees eye-to-eye with their philosophies and is able to survive long-term.” Soon after starting last September, he said he “quickly realized that based on the political climate I wasn't going to last long.” So he started searching for new employment in February 2020.

    Despite the difficult situation, he said he was caught off-guard by his termination.

    “My dismissal came as a surprise to me, especially considering that we had made some terrific progress during my tenure in office,” Waggoner said. “The City's revenues had been decimated by the results of the COVID-19-related economic downturn and, therefore, I would like to think that was a big contributing factor as to why the city manager position is now vacant, but there is no way I can know that for sure.  

    “Regardless, I wish their community good luck moving forward,” he added.