The Wadena City Council questioned four candidates in their search for the next city administrator position Wednesday, Aug. 4.
The council heard from (in this order) Jake Huebsch, Richard Downey, Rozlyn Tousignant and Glenn Anderson. The meeting took about four hours, with each candidate asked the same 17 questions and given 55 minutes with the council. All applicants toured the city with Mayor George Deiss, had meetings with department heads and all brought a variety of skills to the table.
A fifth candidate, Joseph Rotz dropped out of the race about a week ago.
Following interviews, the council made the decision to openly discuss their top picks. In reviewing comments from staff, the council shared that they were pleased to see staff were largely thinking the same things as them.
Most highly rated among each of the council members was Anderson, who currently serves as the city administrator/economic development director for the City of Sibley, Iowa, (pop. 2,798) where he has been in the position since 2014. Prior to this, he served as the city administrator/economic development director for the City of Ackley, Iowa, for one year, and as the economic development director for Lyon County, Iowa, for three years. He is also self-employed with High Point Consulting, LLC.
Anderson holds a bachelor’s degree in education/social sciences. He has previously been recruited for positions but sought out this position as it was appealing to him.
While the council shared no complaints of other candidates, they could think of nothing they didn’t like about Anderson as he brought not only experience as a city administrator and economic development director but as someone who ran his own successful businesses. Anderson noted that he bases his decision making on four pillars of conduct.
“Is what I’m about to do ethical … is what I’m about to do moral … is it legal…,” Anderson said. “The final thing is, is it right for the community? Not is it right for this person or that person or Glen, is it right for the community?” he said. He felt that using those four pillars they rarely have someone who can disagree with their decision making.
Though he was not asked, Anderson said that one way he would plan to get involved in the community if hired was to move into the city. City council members were pleased to hear that.
With all eager to offer the job to Anderson, a subcommittee of Mayor George Deiss and councilman Bruce Uselman was formed to work out details of negotiations.
Highlights of the interview with Anderson included discussion about Wadena getting Mercury Mosaics to start a production facility in Wadena rather than Sibley. Sibley was the No. 2 choice and Anderson was destined to find out how Wadena managed to bring the business to town, rather than his town.
Anderson took time to share how lucky he was to be happily married to his wife for nearly 40 years. He listed communication, trust and an open door policy as keys to building trust with staff, the council and the community.
He’s worked at ice arenas, pools, park and rec departments, helped bring a casino to town and shared that he doesn’t sleep much.
“This community fits me,” Anderson said. “I feel strongly that I fit this community.”
When asked if he had any questions for the council, he opened a packet of data he had researched on the city including funding he found out was coming to the city from COVID-19 relief and LGA funding. He wanted to know what the city planned to do with the funds. He continued on with questions based on what knowledge he gathered. The council was impressed that he did his homework.
The city council’s next regular meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 10. It’s possible they may have an offer accepted at that time.
Should the council need to choose from their other applicants, these three others offered a host of possibilities.
Rozlyn Tousignant currently serves as an office support specialist with the City of Bloomington, Minn., where she has been in the role for two and a half years. Prior to this, she served as deputy city clerk for the City of Brooklyn Center, Minn., for three years. Ms. Tousignant holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s degree in public administration.
Richard Downey is currently employed with the Village of Kronenwetter, Wisc., (pop. 7,796) as the village administrator. He has served in this role for nine and a half years. Prior to this, he served as city administrator for the City of Washington, Ill., for two months, for the City of Rock Falls, Ill., for eight years, and for the City of Elkhart, Kan., for three years. Downey holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration.
Jake Huebsch currently works for Sourcewell as the Community Development Administrator where he has been employed for over three years. Prior to this, he served as transit director for Wadena County, Minn., for seven months. He has also held the position of community and transportation planner for the City of Mankato, Minn., for four years, and the community and transportation planner for the Region Five Development Commission for over three years. Huebsch holds a bachelor’s degree in sports management and recreation as well as a bachelor’s degree in community development/urban studies.