by Jim Boyle


The Sherburne County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 on June 26 to offer the county’s top job to Bruce Messelt.

Messelt is the Chisago County administrator, a position he has held for nearly eight years.

Prior to his job in Chisago County, he served as the city administrator for Lake Elmo for two years, as the president of Oak Grove Lutheran School for two years, and as the city manager for Moorhead for five years.

Messelt holds bachelor’s degrees in political science, history, and international relations, as well as a master’s degree in public administration.

With the commisioners’ vote, the county’s search firm DDA Consultants and board entered into negotiations on Wednesday evening with Messelt, who is also a finalist for the Blaine city manager post.

Messelt was the top choice of three commissioners, and the second choice of two commissioners, which separated him from a field of five finalists.

Big Lake City Manager Clay Wilfahrt and Moorhead City Manager Christina Volkers would be the closest finishers, if the paper ballots were weighted, according to Gary Weiers of DDA Consultants.

Commissioner Felix Schmiesing said the numbers reflect something, and he suggested moving forward with their top candidate.

Other commissioners agreed.

The 5-0 vote came after two days of interviews with five finalists who were seeking to replace Steve Taylor, who retired last week after 5½ years as county administrator.

The other finalists included Nathan Burkett, the assistant city administrator for Shakopee, and Kara Terry, the director of Crow Wing County Community Services and Community Health administrator.

In all there were 53 applicants with about a dozen passed on to the board for consideration. Commissioners narrowed that list down to five before calling interviews.

The vote Wednesday authorizes the board chair and vice chair to negotiate with Messelt towards a contract that would need to be approved by the full board before Messelt can be finalized as Taylor’s replacement.

The board hopes to have a new administrator start work by early August.

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