Rochester’s city administrator is looking to move on.
“We don’t have any dates,” said Rochester City Council President Randy Staver during Monday’s council meeting as he announced that Steve Rymer anticipates leaving his city position.
Rymer was hired in 2017 and took the city’s top administrative post in October, replacing Stevan Kvenvold, who had served 37 years in the position.
For more than a year, Rymer has been traveling back and forth to Portland, Ore., after his wife opted to move there to help care for their granddaughter.
Rymer said he’s ready to make the move permanent.
“Serving as Rochester’s city administrator has been a highlight of my career though my family and I have decided that it is the right time for me to begin transitioning permanently to the Portland area,” he said in a memo to the council dated June 8.
The memo included a transition plan, calling for Rymer to work full time through August and then scale back in later months to focus on creating the 2021 city budget and other council priorities.
“During this period, I envision primarily working remotely as this will allow me to provide the appropriate level of leadership and start transitioning into the next phase of my career,” he said, without citing an end date.
On Monday, Staver suggested the council consider initiating a replacement process early by identifying priorities for Rymer’s potential replacement and establishing goals for a search.
“We know it could take several months to complete, especially with the current social situation,” he said. “It might even take longer.”
The council president said the upcoming election, which will replace at least three council members, also raises questions on how to move forward.
“Do you wait and let the new council make the selection, or do you start the process now?” he said, noting that as many as four of the current seven council members could be replaced during the Nov. 4 election.
Staver proposed starting the process with the current council and bringing in newly elected officials after the election, either by sitting in on discussions before Jan. 1 or as council members, if the process extends into 2021.
“Quite frankly, I’ll say the council that’s sitting right now probably has the best idea of what the city administrator does and what expectations are,” Staver said. “I think it would be somewhat unfair to drop that on a brand-new council.”
Other council members said the uncertainty of a new council could affect who eventually applies for the position and suggested moving forward cautiously.
“I do think we should not delay starting,” said Nick Campion, who also called for creating a plan for guiding the search process.
As a member of the council whose seat isn’t on the ballot, he said he wants to ensure the process doesn’t need to be completely reset if it extends into 2021.
Staver said the next steps will be discussed at the July 6 council meeting.