WORTHINGTON – On a 3-2 vote, the Nobles County Commissioners today voted to use a 7-day in-house only posting to advertise for the position of County Administrator, which will open up at the end of April when Tom Johnson retires.
The nay votes came from Commissioners Bob Demuth and Don Linssen, who were both more interested in opening up the position to the public.
Commissioner Justin Ahlers, who made the motion to advertise in-house, stated at the beginning of the discussion that he and former Commissioner Matt Widboom did their due diligence in the hiring of Deputy Administrator Bruce Heitkamp. Ahlers said his reasoning with that diligence was knowing that Johnson would be retiring in the near future.
“We needed someone who would be able to fill his shoes,” Ahlers said. “I feel we’ve done that.”
He added it didn’t seem necessary to spend county resources on a recruitment firm.
Commissioner Bob Paplow said he had been under the impression that Heitkamp would be taking over Johnson’s position.
“It’s called secession planning,” Johnson interjected when Paplow seemed at a loss to describe the process.
Linssen said it seemed the commissioners were doing a disservice to the community by not looking further afield to fill the position, stating that “if you don’t look, you’re leaving something on the table.”
Demuth concurred with Linssen, stating they should look outside “and let the cream rise to the top.”
At the vote, Metz sided with Ahlers and Paplow, which means the position will not be advertised to the general public. All five commissioners will interview any candidates – a process that will be open to the public.
Both Demuth and Linssen said they would be disappointed if there was only one candidate for the position.
Nobles County Attorney Joe Sanow pointed out that the board is not obligated to hire from the first round of candidates.
“The board could decide that none are preferable and do more interviews or bring in an outside firm,” he stated.
Human Resources Director Sue Luing pointed out that the posting is only internal, and the only way the public would be aware of it is through media exposure.
With the 7-day posting, the commissioners are looking at a timeline that could include interviews after their next scheduled meeting in late March.