By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — FULTON, Ill. — The city of Fulton is one step closer to selecting a new city administrator with only five applicants now vying for the job.
A special public hearing, held this past weekend, allowed members of the Fulton City Council and Fulton residents to meet candidates face to face during an open interview session.
“We could have closed the session for the interviews but we decided to give the public an opportunity to meet the candidates,” Fulton Mayor Larry Russell said.
A selection committee of two City Council members and a variety of other city figures have been working over the past several weeks to narrow the selection down from more than 40 applicants to these five.
Russell anticipated that a decision would be made by the first city council meeting in September, but as deliberation continues it seems as though that deadline will not be met.
“We’re not ready to have an announcement by the September meeting but there will be some clarification by then,” Russell said. “We’re going to take a breath and go a little slower.”
The five candidates range in professional experience and many were required to travel to be present at the open interviews.
Only one Fulton native is in the running for the city administrator position but being local doesn’t necessarily weigh in the candidates favor.
“All five are in the running and that’s where we stand,” Russell said.
Barbara Suehl-Janis is the only Fulton resident to apply for the position, and Russell feels her experience with previous industrial reality makes her a strong candidate for the position.
One of her challengers, Patrick “Ian” Rigg, is currently the city administrator in Eldora, a town of approximately 2,700 people.
He is a graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and interned with the city of Davenport to learn the basics of city management.
Although he has experience in the city administrator position, that does not make Rigg a shoe-in for the position.
Standing in his way are three other candidates — Tim Ridder, David Strohl and William Catalano.
Ridder is a public works official and oversees 73 employees in Des Plaines, Ill. Although he is not a city administrator, his leadership abilities play strongly in his favor.
Also, his work with the Rock Island, Ill., city manager several years ago puts his abilities level with the other four candidates.
Strohl used to work as the business manager for the village of Morton, Ill., but currently serves at the interim city manager for LeGrange, Mo. and Catalano, the former city administrator for Leroy, Ill., lives and works in Edwardsville, Ill.
All five candidates have been interviewed by the selection committee, and now must await the decision from the mayor.
Russell feels each candidate has strong capabilities for the position but doesn’t see the need to rush a decision if there is not agreement within the department on who will be the best fit.
“Even though it is a mayoral appointment the best way to get a unanimous decision is to get input from other departments,” Russell said. “If we decide that none of the candidates pass our test, then we go back and reload.”