Yellow Medicine County still looking for administrator

GRANITE FALLS – After a sometimes heated discussion the Yellow Medicine County board of commissioners voted at a special meeting on Friday to invite three candidates for the position of county administrator back for a second round of interviews after their first choice withdrew her acceptance of the board’s job offer.

The position of county administrator has been vacant since former YMC Administrator Ryan Krosch left at the end of December. The board hired the firm of Springstead Inc. to search for a successor to Krosch and had narrowed the field down to five candidates.

Of the five, two already work for the county. Michelle May is county finance manager and Peggy Heglund is finance service director.

Following a meeting on April 3, the board voted to offer the position to Heather Aagesen-Heubner, who is presently Dakota County administrative services manager.

However, at the next board meeting on April 9, commissioners Gary Johnson, Louis Sherlin, and Greg Renneke voted to rescind the job offer and reconsider Aagesen-Heubner after she informed the commission she’d like a grace period before accepting the job while she looked over the area before moving her family.

Although only commissioners Ron Antony and John Behrends voted against the motion to rescind, the motion failed because Robert’s Rules of Order states such a motion must pass by a 4-1 vote.

Prior to Friday’s meeting, Aagesen-Heubner was to be interviewed a second time, but withdrew her name from consideration after the vote.

Board Chairman Anthony opened the meeting by asking for the board’s thoughts on the matter.

Berends said the public acrimony between board members had caused rifts in relationships in the county and between department heads.

“We need a professional,” Berends said. “Springstead said we needed unanimity and it wasn’t done. It’s important to repair relationships and our reputation.”

Berends voiced concerns whether Heglund could work with board members after some had voted against her hiring as county administrator.

Antony opened his remarks by expressing his disapproval of the rescind vote.

“This is the most unprofessional thing I’ve ever seen in 30 years,” Antony said. “Two people waffled and six days later came back and said they didn’t think they wanted this candidate.”

Johnson responded, saying he felt pressured and intimidated into his vote by Springstead’s recommendation and the board’s desire for any vote to hire to be unanimous.

“I’m not going to sit and take shots,” Johnson said. “Don’t talk about professionalism.”

Sherlin defended Heglund’s professionalism.

“Peggy is liked everywhere and treats everybody nice,” Sherlin said. “We need a person who can handle people. This is not a business, it’s a service to the public.”

Renneke explained his misgivings about Aagesen-Heubner on the issue of salary and acceptance of the job offer.

“She wasn’t negotiating, she was demanding,” Renneke said.

At the end of the meeting the board voted 4-1, with Johnson opposing, to invite Heglund, May and Patrick Bruflat, currently social services director of Redwood County, to re-interview.

Johnson informed the rest of the board he would not be present at the interviews and they could choose a candidate with a quorum.