City Council offers manager job

Published 2:52 pm Saturday, March 26, 2011

In what was a unanimous vote after a series of interviews, the Albert Lea City Council Saturday afternoon chose to offer the position of city manager to Medina Administrator Chad Adams.

The council said Adams was at the top of their lists, even before the finalists came to town Friday and Saturday. Though he was the youngest of the candidates — in his mid-to-late-30s — council members repeatedly expressed that he stood out among the rest of the candidates for his maturity, quick-thinking and ambition.

Chad Adams

“He’s proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can handle any obstacle,” said 2nd Ward Councilor Larry Baker.

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After the council made the decision around 2 p.m., Albert Lea City Attorney Lee Bjorndal and Mayor Vern Rasmussen called Adams to offer him the position.

Rasmussen said Adams accepted the position pending negotiations.

Rasmussen noted that he does not see any obstacles to getting an agreement worked out. The agreement includes the salary. The range is 90,000 to 100,000. The council will look to sign an agreement in the first half of this week.

The decision came after two days of visits from the six finalists vying for the position. The candidates arrived in Albert Lea Thursday night and then woke up early Friday morning, ate breakfast with the mayor, toured the community and met staff, the council and the community. On Saturday, they ultimately sat down for more in-depth interviews with the council.

Other candidates in the search included David Johnson, Wabasha county administrator; Pat Merrill, former city manager in Fort Morgan, Colo.; David Minke, former deputy county administrator in Anoka County; Dean Torreson, city administrator in Macomb, Ill.; and Greg Withers, former Princeton city administrator.

At the start of his scheduled interview time Saturday, Minke announced he had decided to withdraw from the search. He said he and his wife stayed up late Friday talking about the opportunity and decided the timing wasn’t right for their family.

Minke said it was a hard decision for him to make because he wanted to work with the council. He had been one of the top three candidates for all of the councilors going into the Saturday interviews.

Who is Adams?

Adams, who is married with three children, has worked as city administrator in Medina since January 2003, where he has six people who report to him directly and 25 employees he oversees.

The budget in Medina includes a $3.8 million general fund, a $3.4 million capital improvements fund and a $3 million utilities fund. Medina has just over 5,000 people.

Prior to his time in Medina, Adams worked as city administrator in Onawa, Iowa, from 1999 to 2002. He received his masters in public policy from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He received his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Though many of the councilors expressed initial concerns about Adams’ youth as a city manager, they said he was able to answer all questions asked of him thoroughly and without hesitation.

“Chad is clearly taking off with his career,” 3rd Ward Councilor Ellen Kehr said. “I really think he would be an asset to Albert Lea.”

During a presentation during his interview — when candidates were asked what they would do in their first 100 days on the job — Adams said he plans to be open, direct, transparent and accessible.

He said he would work on building trust, maintaining core organizational strengths and addressing any critical organizational flaws. He talked about the importance of having people in the community and the staff develop trust in him and compared trust to a tree — it only takes one incident of bad trust to cut down the whole tree, he said.

Adams noted that he will meet with the department heads on a weekly basis to begin with, will visit the different areas within city government and most importantly, be a good listener. He said he wants to utilize council work sessions but also talk with the council members individually as well.

Likewise, he’d like to gain insight from Interim City Manager Pat McGarvey.

McGarvey said a local firm volunteered to check the credit of all of the candidates as a precaution and all passed.

Look to for an in-depth story about the interviews with each of the candidates.