Editorial: Finding good fit for administrator position is crucial

Published 9:51 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

After doing some simple research online about the finalists for the open Freeborn County administrator position, we were disappointed to find there had been turmoil in the last year with three of the seven candidates.

In an article that printed in the Tribune Thursday, we delved into some of the controversy surrounding these candidates, who are slated to tour Albert Lea and Freeborn County Aug. 7 and 8 and to meet with the public. The new administrator will fill a position vacated by former Administrator John Kluever, who resigned May 2, the morning after he was arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated.

One of the candidates, Shaun LaDue, is the former West Des Moines police chief and resigned after allegations of sex-based discrimination. Three female members of the police department had filed a civil lawsuit against him, and one ultimately reached a $1.9 million settlement with the city in the case.

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We found that two other county administrator candidates — former Steele County Administrator Laura Elvebak and former Aitkin County Health and Human Services Director Tom Burke —had resigned after being on paid administrative leave prior to their resignations.

According to the Owatonna People’s Press, the working relationship between the board and Elvebak was broken, and perhaps broken beyond repair, by the time her resignation was accepted. The commissioners stated she was not receptive to new changes and there had been some conflicts about placing two employees on paid administrative leave without consulting the board. She had worked in the position for a little over two years.

Though we recognize that sometimes differences in opinions or differences in management styles can be a challenge for some boards to deal with, we urge county officials to look for a candidate who is committed and open to working through differences.

We need a county administrator whose primary focus in the position is bettering our county. Second in priority, however, is someone who can get along well with other people.

Finding a good fit for this open position is critical to moving Freeborn County forward.

We urge county officials to do more research on the administrator finalists and to reconsider any candidate who may have had a questionable parts in their recent pasts.

The next administrator needs to be someone who is fiscally responsible and who can motivate county employees and inspire others. Ultimately, we need someone who can move the county forward.