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3 finalists named for Beltrami County administrator post

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3 finalists named for Beltrami County administrator post
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI – Three finalists have been named for the Beltrami County administrator position, including interim administrator Kay Mack, a public works director in Colorado and Albertville’s former city administrator.


Beltrami County began its search process after Tony Murphy, who held the administrator position for more than 10 years and oversaw construction of several buildings on the county campus, resigned effective last May 1.

Twenty-eight people applied for the job before David Unmacht from Springsted Inc., hired to help with the search process, recommended 11 candidates for further consideration.

The candidate pool was narrowed to four people before by a county search committee interviewed applicants last week.

Mack, who is auditor/treasurer for Beltrami County, will be joined by Thomas Johnson, the public works managing director for Eagle County, Colo., and Larry Kruse, the former city administrator in Albertville, in making presentations to the County Management Team before interviews by county commissioners, who will discuss candidates at Tuesday’s meeting.

Murphy announced his resignation in April and now works as the business development director for eDocument Resources in Minnetonka.

Thomas Johnson

Since January 2007, Johnson has held his current job as public works managing director in Colorado’s Eagle County.

Prior to the position, he worked for Eagle County as facilities management director for about eight months. His previous experience also includes engineering and management for Rosemount Inc. in Chanhassen and The Engineering Alliance in St. Paul.

Johnson earned a master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Eagle County, about 100 miles west of Denver, has its government seat in Eagle, and the county includes the ski resort community of Vail. Johnson has been a key official as the county revamps and builds new government facilities while planning for long-term capital improvement and infrastructure projects.

Larry Kruse

From November 2003 to April 2012, Kruse served as Albertville’s city administrator. He’s also worked as city administrator in the Minnesota communities of Baxter (1999-2003), Park Rapids (1993-1998) and Red Lake Falls (1986-1993).

Kruse has a master’s degree in business management from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, bachelor’s degree in business administration from Moorhead State University, Moorhead and an associate’s degree from Northland Community College in Thief River Falls.

According to the St. Michael Patch, which covers news in the northwest Twin Cities area, Albertville fired Kruse after a spirited City Council meeting in April.

The Patch reported Albertville Mayor Mark Meehan had a long list of grievances with Kruse, and critics at the April council meeting cited unreturned phone calls, inconsistency, lack of professionalism, disagreements on city projects and finances and other items.

The mayor motioned to terminate Kruse “on the grounds of fear of retribution towards some of the staff, citizens and businesses, dishonesty to some of the council, lack of response in an adequate time and future trust issues,” the Patch reported.

However, four months earlier, the city gave Kruse a favorable review, including a 3.89 score out of 5 based on surveys of city employees, council members and business leaders.

A former mayor and council member, along with a business owner, defended Kruse at the meeting and praised him for collecting $950,000 of unbilled payments and securing money to pay for construction of an Interstate 94 ramp this summer.

“If there’s any reason to dismiss Larry, I hope they are $9 million worth,” former Albertville councilmember Tom Fay said.

The discussion caused a rift between council members, including one who said, “call me a small town guy, but this is unfair,” a comment drawing applause from the audience.

The Patch reported the mayor revised his motion to state termination was “due to a change of direction.”

Kruse, according to The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, was one of six finalists for Moorhead’s city manager post in 2007.

Kay Mack

Mack has been the Beltrami County Auditor/Treasurer since 1997, and twice has served in an interim role during searches for a permanent county administrator.

Those interim positions include the current opening, since May, and from April to October 2001 before Murphy was hired.

Mack worked as deputy treasurer from 1977 to 1986, when she became the county treasurer until 1997. The positions of treasurer and auditor were then combined.

She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bemidji State University.

As a voter-selected official, Mack has overseen elections in Beltrami County. Her office provides for the calculation and billing of all property and mobile home taxes. As part of the 2007 budget, she spearheaded a successful effort to collect delinquent mobile home taxes.

Steve Wagner
Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several newsroom roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and cops/court reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His experience includes extensive reporting related to Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with projects about immigration, the fatal 2002 train derailment in Minot, N.D., and the 20th anniversary of Gordon Kahl's massacre of U.S. marshals. Wagner also worked as a reporter at newspapers in the Twin Cities and Iowa. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.
(701) 780-1104