The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 1, 2012

Now four, soon to be two administrator finalists

By Mark Fischenich
The Free Press

NORTH MANKATO — The second search for a new North Mankato city administrator has reduced 37 applicants to four, and two finalists could be selected in the next 10 days.

But it's looking increasingly unlikely that the city will meet its latest goal of getting a replacement for longtime administrator Wendell Sande, who retired at the end of May, in place by the end of the year.

The first round of the search resulted in three finalists being interviewed in August by the City Council, which ultimately decided that none of the three reached the expectations of what council members wanted from the city's next CEO. When the City Council decided on Sept. 10 to reopen the search, the goal was to select Sande's replacement by Nov. 10.

The latest paring of candidates was done largely through joint telephone interviews by Councilman Bob Freyberg and Turning Point's Bonnie Bennett, a consultant hired by the city to assist with the search.

"We have some really, really unique applicants this time," Freyberg said. "I basically could approve any of the four right now."

The four applicants, whose names aren't public information, will be forwarded to a city personnel committee, which will do additional interviews and reduce the list to two finalists, Freyberg said. The names and resumes of those two finalists will then be public information, and they will be interviewed in a public meeting by the entire Council.

The applicants going to the personnel committee include three men and a woman.

"The exciting thing is they're young," Freyberg said. "They are all very well qualified. ... One of them is a very bold choice."

The personnel committee could interview the final four applicants as soon as Dec. 10 and 11 and have the finalists selected by the Dec. 17 council meeting -- the last currently-scheduled meeting of the year, Freyberg said.

A special council meeting could be called to conduct the public interviews with the finalists. With the holidays coming, however, it would be unlikely that the public interviews of the finalists by the Council could be scheduled before January.

"I think it's going to be very difficult," Freyberg said.