Wadena council looks to offer admin. job to Henning clerk

Olivia, Minn., candidate turned down offer for job. Council looks to candidate from Henning.

Dan Coughlin City interview.jpg
Olivia city administrator Dan Coughlin interviews for the city of Wadena's city administrator job with Mayor George Deiss, and council members Wade Miller and Bruce Uselman taking notes.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

WADENA — The Wadena City Council has more difficult decisions to make as their No. 1 pick for city administrator has turned down the position.

If this sounds familiar it’s because this happened last August during the first round of interviews for the position. In that case the No. 1 turned down an offer and the No. 2 candidate stepped out of the running.

In the latest round, Olivia, Minn., city administrator Dan Coughlin turned down the job offer after convincing council members that he was the best man for the job. Wadena Mayor George Deiss said Coughlin was given “a very fair offer.” Deiss said that Coughlin commented that after discussions with his wife, the move to Wadena was perhaps not the right one.

The council's other finalists include Kimberly Schroeder and John Kunelius. The council took action to make an offer to Schroeder at their Tuesday, April 11 meeting, with four out of five members voting for Schroeder.

The council has been without a full-time administrator since May 2021.
Plans in place to find her replacement and handle the load in the interim.
Negotiations with the council's top two picks did not go as hoped.

Schroeder currently serves as the City Clerk/Treasurer for the City of Henning, Minnesota, where she has been in the position for three and a half years. Prior to this, she served as a Human Resource Generalist for Wadena County, Minnesota, for over two years, and as the City Clerk/Treasurer for the City of Parkers Prairie, Minnesota, for nearly 17 years. Ms. Schroeder holds an associate degree in Accounting from Alexandria Technical College.


Kunelius currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Norwich University Applied Research Institutes where he has been in the role for over two years. Prior to this, he served as their Associate Vice President for two years, as the Associate Dean of Enrollment Management for three years, and as the Director of Admissions for one year. He has also served as the Admissions Manager for Rasmussen University for over four years. Mr. Kunelius holds a Bachelor of Science from Southwest Minnesota State University and a Master of Arts from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

The Wadena City Council interviewed these three candidates for the administrator position on Monday, April 4, and agreed that all three would make a good administrator for the city. It's up to a council negotiation committee to work with Schroeder on an agreeable package.

Since the first round applicants turned down offers for employment, DDA Human Resources, Inc., the organization the city of Wadena is contracting for the hiring of this position, did not charge the city for this second round. If they do not find an applicant in this round, the city will be paying for services for the next round, Deiss said. Nobody wants to go for round three.

Deiss shared some frustration in that the council has gone through the proper steps to seek interested candidates, qualified applicants have applied and even though they expressed strong interest and salaries are openly shared, the offers have not been accepted.

Deiss has been pleased in working with DDA through this process and is hopeful they’ll be filling the position soon. Utility superintendent David Evans has been filling in as interim administrator for nearly one year.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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