NORTH MANKATO — North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen voiced his disappointment that The Free Press chose to “interject themselves” into the hiring process for a new city administrator.
He said the media’s role should be to report as the hiring process unfolds.
Dehen’s comments came at the end of a short special meeting Friday afternoon, where the council set interview sessions with the three finalists for next week.
The council was originally going to release the names of the finalists at the Friday meeting. The Free Press asked for and received the names earlier this week, after noting that state law requires the names be made public as soon as they are named finalists.
After the meeting, Dehen said he didn’t have an issue with the newspaper wanting the names but said the tone of a story about the finalists “was more negative than it needed to be.”
The story gave background on the finalists and detailed some conflicts some had had with city councils they had worked with. The information was gleaned from newspapers in communities the finalists had worked in.
“(The Free Press) kind of called these guys out,” Dehen said.
Dehen said the personnel committee that picked the finalists received satisfactory answers from them about their career history and had other background information the newspaper did not have when it wrote the story. He said such reporting should be done as the public interviews proceed.
The finalists from among 24 original applicants are Blue Earth City Administrator Kathy Bailey, Afton interim City Administrator Ron Moorse and former Melrose City Administrator Brian Beeman.
The search began when North Mankato City Administrator Wendell Sande announced his retirement this spring after 16 years in the city’s top appointed position.
Bailey, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Minnesota State University, was the city administrator of Sherburn for seven years before landing the same job in Madelia in 2006. She was hired by the Blue Earth City Council in July 2008.
After 16 years as city administrator of Orono and a two-year stint in Arden Hills, Moorse ended up in Afton.
He was hired as interim city administrator in Afton in April 2010 and was replaced by Sara Irvine in February 2011, only to be brought back in the interim role after Irvine’s employment was ended in February of this year.
Beeman was named the Melrose city administrator in 2005 and held the position for four years until the Melrose City Council voted to eliminate the position in the midst of budget cutting in February 2009.