After just a few months of searching, the city of Watertown announced that it had narrowed down the city administrator applicants to four finalists. These four still have some time before it’s narrowed down further, but the city is hopefully on its final steps for filling the role. These four finalists have similarities among them, but each also brings their own unique experiences to the table.

“Things have been going really well, and we’ve been happy with recruitment team,” said Mayor Steve Washburn. “They did a great job finding candidates that matched what we were looking for.”

As part of their search for a new city administrator after the departure of Shane Fineran, Watertown has been utilizing an interim administrator, Jeff O’Neal, which has so far been going very well. During this time, city staff were accepting applications for the full position. Of the candidates, 11 were initially chosen for interviews, which was further narrowed to the current four.

Each of the four has the level of experience the council was looking for. While not all of them have been city administrators, they’ve served as assistants, managers, and clerks for various cities around the metro. This experience was exactly what the council was looking for, as well as a familiarity with Carver County and Watertown in particular, since knowledge of the various laws and ordinances would be a big help while they transition into the position.

Among the candidates are Jake Foster, Clarissa Hadler, Jennifer Nash, and Dan Tolsma. Foster is currently the Assistant City Manager for Chanhassen, a position he’s held for two years. He’s also served as an Assistant City Admin for Lake Elmo, and a Management Analyst for Fridley. He received a bachelor’s in Political Science from St. John’s University, and has a master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University.

Hadler is the City Administrator for Maple Plain, a position that she has held for five months. Before this, she was the interim city administrator for Clarkfield, and as served as a city administrator for Plainview as well as a city clerk for Rosemount. She has a bachelor’s in Business Administration from Washington University and a master’s in Public Administration from Hamline University.

Nash is currently employed as the Economic Development Director for Buffalo, was also the Planning and Development Coordinator before this role. She was also a City Administrator and Economic Development Director for Howard Lake, as well as the Planning and Zoning Specialist and Deputy City Clerk. She’s also served as executive assistant to the superintendent of Sartell-St. Stephen School District and assistant city admin and deputy city clerk for Northfield. Nash has a bachelor’s and master’s in Public Administration from St. Cloud State.

The final candidate, Tolsma, is currently the city administrator for Spring Park, which he’s been for 10 years. He’s also served as city administrator, clerk, and treasurer for Tyler, and was an administrative intern for Vermillion, South Dakota. Tolsma holds a bachelor’s in Recreation Management, and a master’s in Pubic Administration.

“All of the final candidates have a lot of experience working in cities in various counties,” said Washburn.

The next step is to invite all four to a tour of Watertown City Hall on August 18. Once completed, each will be interviewed by staff and the council. Once one is chosen, negotiations will begin for the position, and if they accept the candidate is likely required to give 30 days notice with their current employer. If all goes well, Watertown will have a new city administrator by the end of September or early October.

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