Board approves offering county admin. job to Albert Lea native

Published 7:37 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved offering the county’s administrator position to Freeborn County Court Services Director Tom Jensen.

Jensen was selected for the position after commissioners wrote the name of their preferred candidate on pieces of paper. Jensen received three votes, while Freeborn County Public Works Director Sue Miller received two votes. Following the written vote, commissioners unanimously voted to enter into the negotiation period with Jensen, which will be conducted by board Chairman Jim Nelson and interim Freeborn County Administrator Kelly Callahan.

Tom Jensen

An Albert Lea native, Jensen, 51, has been employed with Freeborn County since 1997. He was promoted to his current position in the summer of 2000.

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Jensen thanked commissioners for selecting him for the position.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” he said.

Jensen — who had not committed to accepting the position as of Tuesday afternoon — said he did not expect to be selected for the position.

Miller, Jensen and three other in-house candidates — Brian Buhmann, Human Services director; Ryan Rasmusson, Freeborn County assessor; and James Everhart, court services officer — interviewed for the position last week after six outside candidates visited Freeborn County and were interviewed by commissioners in early August:

  • Shaun LaDue, former West Des Moines chief of police.
  • Gail Levorson, who as of July was a graduate assistant in e-learning at Bemidji State University, owner and manager at North Central Development Services and city clerk for the city of Sebeka.
  • Tom Burke, former Aitkin County Health and Human Services director.
  • Laura Elvebak, who as of July was a public sector management consultant and former administrator in Steele and Waseca counties.
  • Ken Osmonson, whose most recent work experience as of July was North American operations manager for Valicor. A southern Minnesota native, Osmonson recently moved back to the area.
  • Tom Meyer, coordinator and attorney for the city of Manly, Iowa.

Interim Freeborn County administrator Kelly Callahan has been filling in since former administrator John Kluever resigned in early May after being arrested for driving while intoxicated in Albert Lea.

District 5 Commissioner Mike Lee expressed confidence that Jensen will do a good job as administrator.

“I think he’ll do an excellent job,” he said.

Lee described Jensen as “straightforward” and as someone who listens.

Hiring a Freeborn County employee allows commissioners to have a better understanding of who the administrator is, Lee said.

Nelson said selecting Jensen was “a tough decision” because Jensen and Miller both had strong and weak aspects of their candidacy.

“Either one would do a good job,” he said.

About Sam Wilmes

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

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