County administrator candidates finish second day of interviews

Published 9:41 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The six candidates for Freeborn County administrator participated in interviews with Freeborn County commissioners during the second and final day of their interview process on Tuesday.

The candidates had 30-minute interviews with three teams consisting of the five commissioners and interim Freeborn County Administrator Kelly Callahan.

District 1 Commissioner Glen Mathiason spoke highly of the candidates.

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“I was very impressed with our candidates that we had,” he said. “It went well — we stayed on schedule, I felt, and got a lot of questions answered that we had.”

Mathiason said he is not sure the board will make a hiring decision soon.

“In my mind, it won’t be easy, because they all kind of held up their end pretty well,” he said. “I was really impressed with them.”

The candidates for administrator are:

Ken Osmonson, whose most recent work experience was as North American operations manager for Valicor. A southern Minnesota native, Osmonson recently moved back to the area.

Tom Meyer, attorney and coordinator for the city of Manly.

Shaun LaDue, former West Des Moines chief of police.

Gail Leverson, who was a graduate assistant in e-learning at Bemidji State University, owner and manager at North Central Development Services, and city clerk and treasurer for the city of Sebeka.

Tom Burke, former Aitkin County Health and Human Services director.

Laura Elvebak, a public sector management consultant, and former administrator in Steele and Waseca counties.

A seventh candidate, Scott Kelly — staff attorney at Public Health Law Center in St. Paul — has withdrawn his candidacy.

District 4 Commissioner Chris Shoff said interviews went well. He said the candidates had backgrounds in city and county government.

“Each had their unique abilities,” he said.

In addition to their interviews with commissioners, candidates had lunch with department leaders and made themselves available to meet with the public.

The first day of the tour was slated to include introductions at the Freeborn County Government Center, a tour of Albert Lea and Freeborn County, a lunch at Plaza Morena, visits with county departments and a dinner at Wedgewood Cove.

Callahan said the board could decide to not hire any of the candidates, offer a job to a candidate or conduct another round of interviews. He said he hopes the board makes a decision by the end of next week.

Candidates for the position said on Tuesday afternoon they were pleased with how the interviews went.

Meyer said he thought the interview went well.

“It sounds like everybody had a good experience, and just see where it goes from there,” he said.

LaDue said he thought the interviews “went really well, in the sense that we had opportunities to be with them yesterday, and interact with them. And this was more of a one-on-one situation, where we could talk more directly about the county business … I found them to be very genuine, very forward-working.”

He said the interviews allowed him to understand the needs and concerns of Freeborn County, and the county seems to be in a “fairly good position” with funding issues like every small government entity, he said.

“For the most part, I think that there is a lot of real good things happening here, which makes it a reason to want to pursue an opportunity like this,” he said.

Elvebak said she thought the process was “very thorough,” in that candidates toured the community, county and met with staff, department leaders, commissioners and the community.

Burke said on Tuesday morning he thought the tour of the county “was very helpful.”

“Seeing the buildings, etc. was very nice,” he said. “I think looking at the county budget and looking at some of the staffing, I think things look pretty good, so pretty excited about it.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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