4 Freeborn County administrator finalists announced

Published 11:33 am Tuesday, October 18, 2022

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Names of the four finalists in the running to become the new Freeborn County administrator were announced Tuesday, though the county is in danger of losing two of the candidates because of other opportunities for them, interim County Administrator Jan Fransen told the commissioners. 

The finalists are the following:

Michael Harvey

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Harvey has 12 1/2 years of county government experience, in Benton, Dakota and St. Louis counties. His focus has been land services and assessing, hiring, managing, mentoring and training staff, according to Mike Humpal, the management consultant conducting the search. 

Harvey has a Bachelor of Science degree in finance/economics. Currently, he is taking a career break in 2022 to invest time in his family and travel and make memories. He is now ready to return to full time work. 

Susan Miller

Miller has over 29 years of experience in city and county government, serving the city of Albert Lea and Freeborn County as city and county engineer. 

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and is a registered professional engineer. She currently works with the SRF Consulting Group Inc. leading their transportation and environmental planning team

Candace Pesch

Pesch has seven years of experience in county government and four years within the federal government

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in organizational leadership and an associates degree in letters, arts and sciences. She currently is the director of Personnel and Human Resources for Freeborn County.

Pat Oman

Oman has 20 years of experience in city and county government as a city and county administrator as well as economic development director. He also spent eight years in the private sector in a management role. 

He has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Bachelor of Arts in history, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Manufacturing Systems. 

He is currently county administrator for Becker County.

The finalists were slated to meet for a series of interviews with the board, department heads and the public Nov. 14 and 15, but with the possibility of losing Pesch and Oman, the commissioners opted to try to move the interviews up to next Wednesday. 

Fifth District Commissioner Ted Herman pushed to move the interviews up, saying if the candidates were the four best people recommended by the search firm, South Central Service Cooperative, he would hate to lose two of them because the interviews were almost a month away. 

First District Commissioner Brad Edwin said he had a vacation planned in late October and early November that he had in place for over a year and would be disappointed if he would not be able to attend the interviews.  

Third District Commissioner John Forman said he didn’t want to rush the candidates into the interview and questioned whether moving up the interviews would change the decisions for the two candidates.  

Edwin also noted a sense of excitement the public has had in meeting the candidates. 

Second District Commissioner Dan Belshan said the public elects the commissioners to hire staff and said the board is ultimately who is “in the driver’s seat.”

He said he saw no problem with moving the interview dates, saying they were fluid in the best interest of the board, just as if they would need to be moved if someone were sick. 

The board hired South Central Service Cooperative in July of North Mankato to lead the search after the resignation of former Administrator Tom Jensen in June. Jensen had worked as administrator since September 2017. 

Fransen said the search firm will contact each of the four candidates to see if the earlier date will work for the interviews; if the date does not work, they will move forward with the original dates in mid-November.