5 finalists selected for city manager

Published 7:05 pm Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Albert Lea City Council on Thursday selected five finalists to be interviewed in the search for a new city manager.

After hearing a presentation of 10 semifinalists by The Brimeyer Group’s President Richard Fursman — who was hired to lead the city manager search — the councilors wrote down their top five people to invite to town for interviews.

Four candidates received clear majority, while the fifth spot had to be re-voted on by the council.

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The search comes after former City Manager Victoria Simonsen resigned from the position in Albert Lea to take on a new job as town administrator in Lyons, Colo. Her last day at City Hall was Feb. 12.

Fursman said his firm received 71 resumes for the position from over 20 states.

The highest concentration of resumes were from the Midwest.

After reviewing the applications, Fursman said, he interviewed 18 people in person or by phone and then narrowed down the list to 10 semifinalists that most closely matched the values and skills deemed important by the council.

He rated each based on the following topics: Working with elected officials, budgeting, organization and development, community and economic development, supervision and leadership and community involvement.

After briefly reviewing each candidate

Thursday, the council selected who they want to move on to the next step.

Three of the finalists are living in the Midwest, while two are in the West.

A look at the finalists:

Dean Torreson

Torreson received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Minnesota State University Mankato in 1980 and a master’s of public administration from Minnesota State University Mankato in 1981.

He has worked as the city manager of Macomb, Ill., population 20,000, since 2008.

He supervises 102 full-time employees and makes $88,000.

Prior to that, he worked as city manager in Spencer, Iowa, from 1997 to 2007; city administrator in Atlantic, Iowa, from 1991 to 1997; city administrator in West Point, Iowa, from 1986 to 1991; city administrator in Osceola, Iowa, from 1983 to 1986; and staff director for the Dakota Resource Council in Dickinson, N.D. from 1981 to 1983.

Fursman said Torreson’s biggest highlight was his budgeting skills. He also seemed to really have a handle on his relationship with the city council he worked with.

Michael Lombardo

Lombardo received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Albany in Albany, N.Y., in 1993, and a master’s of business administration from the University of Albany, N.Y., in 1995.

Most recently, he was the city manager in Iowa City, Iowa, population 67,831, from May 2008 to April 2009, where he supervised 15 employees directly and there were 630 full-time city employees. He made $169,000.

Prior to that, he worked in local government counseling from April 2006 to February 2007; as county administrator in Allegan, Mich., population 105,665, from December 2002 through April 2006; as assistant city manager for finance and administration in Augusta, Maine, from March 1999 through December 2002; as director of the performance measurement programs for the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C., from October 1999 through March 1999; and in various other positions from July 1984 through October 1991.

Fursman said he thinks Lombardo brings an “interesting blend” of talent and experience to the community.

Jim Norman

Norman received a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Mankato State University in Mankato in 1977 and a master’s degree in urban and regional studies from Mankato State University in 1988.

He currently works as the interim city manager in Afton, population 2,900, where he has been since 2008, making $62,000 for a 30-hour week.

Previously, he has worked as part owner of Norman & Associates in Ramsey from 2007 to 2008; city administrator in Ramsey, population 24,000, from 1998 to 2006; city manager in Montevideo, population 5,500, from 1994 to 1998; city administrator in Renville, population 1,500, from 1990 to 1994; county coordinator in Dodge County from 1989 to 1990; and assistant city manager in White Bear Lake from 1987 to 1989.

Fursman pointed out this candidate’s variety of experience.

He said Norman is excited about the opportunity to come to Albert Lea.

Alan Lanning

Lanning received a bachelor’s degree in political science from South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., in 1982, and a master’s degree in public management from South Dakota State University in Vermillion, S.D., in 1992.

He works through a municipal services consulting firm called CH2M HILL as the city manager for Pines North, Colo., population of 10,000, since 2008.

He supervises four staff currently and makes $110,000.

Previously, he has worked as city manager in Steamboat Springs, Colo., (population 50,000 seasonal) from July 2006 to July 2008; city manager in Brookings, S.D., population 18,504, from April 2004 to June 2006; town manager in Minturn, Colo., population 1,200, from May 1998 to March 2004; community facilities development director in Pinetop-Lakeside, Ariz., from January 1998 to May 1998; and administrative assistant to the Moffat County Commissioners in Craig, Colo., from January 1996 to December 1997, among others.

David Torgler

Torgler received a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 1982 and a master’s degree in urban management from North Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., in 1986.

Most recently, he worked as city administrator in Leavenworth, Wash., population 2,300, where he supervised 35 full-time employees and more than 40 seasonal employees. He made $105,000.

Previously, he worked as town manager in Winter Park, Colo., (850 full-time residents and 15,000 seasonal) from August 2007 to Spetember 2008; city administrator in Burlington, Wis., population 10,800, from December 1999 to August 2007; village administrator of the village of Itasca, Ill., population 7,585, from February 1996 to November 1999; and assistant village manager in the village of Addison, Ill., population 32,058, from February 1989 to February 1996.

Fursman mentioned how one unique things about Torgler was going out with the council on a bus a few times a year to look at all of the projects the entity was working on.

What’s next?

Fursman said through this point he has checked into the finalists’ backgrounds as much as he can without a Social Security number, and he will now conduct various background checks on the finalists that require a Social Security number and more detailed information about the candidates.

He said he will conduct a criminal background check and a credit check and then verify all of the candidates’ educational backgrounds.

“I verify that they have the degree that they say, I verify they don’t have any kind of record they haven’t disclosed and I verify their credit check,” Fursman said.

He said he checks with references and tries to contact at least one person each candidate works with.

“If they’re currently employed, I try not to sabotage their career there,” he said. “I’m very delicate with that, but we do try to contact someone they work with.”

He will tell the candidates to let their employers know they are a finalists.

“They’re going to start getting Googled, and they need to prepare themselves for an onslaught of interest,” Fursman said.

The firm will also conduct a personality profile, which will give a close description of how each of the candidates thinks, how they make decisions and what their personalities are like.

The finalists will arrive in Albert Lea Friday, March 19, and will then take a bus tour, have lunch with the department heads and talk with a Realtor and maybe a school official for those with children.

In the late afternoon, there will be a reception where the public can meet the candidates, and then that evening, they will eat with the councilors and their spouses.

Fursman said the schedule will give the council the opportunity to see how the finalists interact with the public and with city leaders both in an informal and formal manner.

Saturday, March 20, will be the day for the interviews.

There will be three groups interviewing: the City Council, a community group and a group of department heads.

Fursman said he is asking that each group make a list of what they liked about each candidate and then if they have any concerns.

City councilors agreed to provide a maximum of $700 in travel expenses for the two candidates who need to fly in, and a maximum of $100 in mileage for those who will be driving.