Four interviewed for Kasson city administrator position
KASSON — Four candidates for Kasson city administrator met with city officials on Tuesday as the city works to narrow the list of candidates to two finalists.
Four committee members were present during the interviews: Mayor Steve Johnson, Councilman Coy Borgstrom, Al Hodge and Judy Ruport. Folmer Carlson and Paul Alberts were absent.
The candidates were quizzed on how each would handle Kasson's infrastructure needs. There was also discussion about bring more economic development to the city.
"(The city administrator) has to have the willingness to work with the council," Mayor Steve Johnson said. "It takes a special person to hear both sides and stay in the middle … it's really a position where you have to work with everybody."
The previous city administrator, Randy Lenth, was fired on Jan. 15.
On Tuesday, each member of the committee asked each candidate four questions. The questions centered around how the candidates would address certain issues that Kasson faces.
The committee expects to select two finalist, who will be interviewed by the full council.
Coleman served as interim city clerk and handled administrative services for the city of Lewiston in Winona County. She also served as Spring Grove city administrator from April 2007 until January 2013, when her position was eliminated by the city. Coleman has also worked for Prairie States Capital LLC and has 25 years of experience in finance.
Coleman said that infrastructure poses one of the biggest challenges facing smaller towns like Kasson. She said that if she got the job she would avoid investing in disputes and put the city's residents' needs first.
"I like challenges, I would thrive on that," she said. "I'm also a learner. New situations always present a chance to expand my knowledge and improve."
Midtovne recently earned a degree in management from the University of Phoenix. He was an assistant manager at a K-mart in Wisconsin and now works at Adamson Motors in Rochester as a service writer.
Midtovne said that he would work to bring businesses into the city by first analyzing the town's specific needs. He would also focus on attracting younger families as the city prepares for growth from Destination Medical Center.
"This city possesses great character and a great sense of honesty," he said. "I can provide a younger image for the city of Kasson. I would be able to bring a different perspective on some of the issues that face Kasson."
As for how he would react to political differences in the governing body, Midtovne said that everyone "puts on pants the same way" and that he would remain focused on the tasks the city asks him to complete.
"I don't get riled up or excited about political issues," he said.
Martin currently serves as Kasson's economic development coordinator. He stated that he has more than 40 years of experience working at "all levels" of government. He had also served as city administrator in Montgomery, Minn.
Martin discussed the changing demographics of Kasson and its growth expected with Destination Medical Center.
"I know it's a city that's changing," Martin said.
Martin said it's important for the city's older residents to maintain a strong presence in the community.
"It's good to maintain that connection with your roots."
Martin also said that if he were to get the job the biggest thing would be to establish trust and keep Kasson residents informed.
"The role of the administrator is to do the investigation, find out what's going on and tell as many people as possible," he said. "Tell the council first, tell as many people as you can. The cardinal sin for a public employee is letting their elected officials be surprised."
Zuleger, a Wisconsin native, worked as city administrator for Lake Elmo, Minn. in Washington County. He left Lake Elmo in July after voters elected a new city council majority that took issue with some of the development Zuleger had overseen.
Zuleger said that if he got the job in Kasson he would work to improve trust and camaraderie among city staff make sure that Kasson was on target in economic development and budgeting the city's debt.
"My standard of practice is that we will not talk about the absent," Zuleger said. "If it turns into gossip, then we're gonna get that person on the phone … that really builds harmony and trust and helps people become more thoughtful about their communication."
Zuleger has experience as an administrator. As chief economic development officer he was responsible for more than $600 million in growth over the span of 11 years.
"I love people, I love my staff and staff becomes family," Zuleger said. "You're gonna get someone who loves people. I'm collaborative and bring people together. I am a peace maker. That's what you're gonna get out of me."