City Admin candidates each have something unique to offer Wayne
Three finalists for the City Administrator position met members of the community during a public interview session on Monday in the meeting room at the fire hall.
Mike Holton, of Plainview, held the first slot at 12:30. Holton is familiar with Wayne thanks to all four of his children attending Wayne State College.
He attended USD in Vermillion and went to work for the greyhound racetrack in Sioux City where he went on to make a career on the management side of the business.
When things began to quiet on the racing front, Holton returned to his hometown to "take a break" as he put it. But he was offered a job with the Center for Rural Affairs upon his return, so the break didn't last long. After 7 years there, Plainview's mayor offered him the job of City Administrator for Plainview, a position he still currently holds.
Holton went back to school to obtain his Masters degree and is currently in the middle of his dissertation for his PhD. He studied public administration in Norway with several city administrators from the state and his passion, he says, is in community development.
He considers his priority in Wayne to build relationships first and to take time to find the points of improvement rather than to hastily make changes.
The second candidate is a Wayne native who currently serves as the Wayne Area Economic Development Director.
Wes Blecke started his career in Ashland as a city administrator but shifted gears to allow his wife to pursue her career in physical therapy when she was offered a position in Wayne. The couple both felt that Wayne, with their strong family ties here and the atmosphere, would be better suited to raise their children than Ashland.
Blecke attended UNO to obtain his Masters degree in Public Administration with a concentration in budgets and finance.
Blecke accepted the assistant director position at WAED in 2005 and moved to interim director and eventually director, and while he has enjoyed his time at WAED, he said, his dream job is in the City Administrator role.
"I told Lowell from the very beginning," Blecke said about wanting the position. "I feel like I've been interviewing for this position for over 11 years now."
His goals for the city include steady, sustainable growth and helping to foster a good business climate to encourage that growth.
The final candidate to meet with community members on Monday was Amber Kummer, a Mitchell, S.D. native transplanted in Anthony, Kan. for her position as City Clerk Administrator.
Amber graduated from USD in Vermillion and her experience with Wayne wasn't as pleasant as one would hope.
"I played rugby and Wayne State was always kicking our butts," Kummer said with a laugh.
Kummer has been in Anthony for seven years and while there, the town of 2,500 experienced an oil boom and eventually a bust. She also met her fiance there, who drove with her to visit Wayne while she interviewed.
She drew several parallels between Anthony and Wayne and her experience helping facilitate business growth and to maintain the community during the chaotic oil boom that doubled the population in "what seemed like overnight."
She highlighted her budget and finance experience with Anthony and her experience lobbying for help from the Kansas governor when the oil boom left the infrastructure of the highways in the surrounding area in complete disarray.
Each candidate was allotted an hour and a half to talk about themselves and respond to questions from audience members that ranged from how they felt about chickens in city limits to what they would do to try and entice more business to the community. The selection process is still underway.