NORTH MANKATO — After deciding to reject three Minnesota city officials in September and broaden their search for a new city administrator, the North Mankato City Council was presented Thursday night with two finalists from Kansas and Michigan.
John Harrenstein, city administrator in Eudora, Kan., and Elke Doom, township supervisor/manager in Huron Township, Mich., were the finalists selected Thursday by a special personnel committee assigned to find a replacement for 16-year City Administrator Wendell Sande, who retired at the end of May.
“I wish we could hire them both,” Councilman Bob Freyberg said.
Freyberg worked with consultant Bonnie Bennett to generate a list of 37 applicants from around the state and nation, pared them to four and then served on the special personnel committee, which held a closed meeting Thursday to settle on the final two. Both candidates are expected to be in Mankato Wednesday for public interviews with the entire City Council, along with city tours and meetings with municipal employees and civic leaders.
“There’s hope that on the 20th (Thursday) we’d have a special council meeting and a decision would be made,” Freyberg said.
The finalists will offer the council similarities and contrasts. Freyberg said both have strong financial and personal skills and broad experience. Both have worked on economic development in the midst of a deep recession. But they come from different generations, different genders and different backgrounds.
Harrenstein is a native of Clear Lake, Iowa, and an honors graduate of the University of Northern Iowa where he earned degrees in public administration and organizational communication. He was just 27 years old when he was hired as city administrator in Eudora in September of 2009, signing a three-year contract paying him about $78,000 a year, according to an article in the Eudora News.
Prior to getting the top administrative post in Eudora, Harrenstein was a management analyst for Johnson County, Kan., where his duties included analyzing budgets and working on projects assigned by the county manager, according to the article.