It's been a long road, but the city of Clinton is just a few signatures away from having a permanent city administrator in place.
We say that with confidence after the Clinton City Council on Tuesday night authorized human resources consultant Paul Greufe to negotiate an acceptable contract with the council's favored candidate, interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser.
The council for the first time Tuesday publicly announced, one by one, whether they preferred Kinser — currently the city's finance director — or Ben Benson, assistant city manager with the city of Joliet, Ill.
The vote was unanimous to push forward with the creation of the contract for Kinser. While Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman was absent the night of the discussion, a 6-0 vote is a strong indication that the hiring will happen once the contract is agreed upon.
We cannot stress enough the importance this decision will have on Clinton from now and into the long-term future.
Right now, as we all know, the council and city is faced with economic woes, some that aren't that much different from other cities throughout the state and nation; others unique to the city itself.
It's no secret that Clinton's funding was running on a shoestring a few years ago — the city even had to borrow to make payroll, as we recall, and city officials said our financial reporting was such a mess that they didn't even know where we stood.
But now, just a little over a year since Kinser joined the finance department, the city is able to handle curveballs such as the ADM ruling that reduced its property valuation and caused Kinser and city officials to have to find $1.1 million in the budget, and quickly.
They did it.
This is just one small piece of a larger financial puzzle that the council is charged with putting together on a monthly and yearly basis as it builds what hopefully will be a strong foundation for the future.
Those skills and so much more are required by everyone who plays a role in leading the city — and finding a city administrator who can help put it all together is no easy task.
The council did it right by having the community-based committee involved in the interview process. And we want to congratulate the council on carrying out a transparent process throughout — that's important because Clinton's leaders throughout the past few years have not been perceived as being transparent in some of their dealings.
But just because we are almost at the end of the road in this process, it is easy to see there is a lot to do to get and keep this city on track.
Along the way, accountability will be key for that to happen — and we mean that not only for the council, but for the city administrator, all the department heads she will oversee and the workers in those departments.
It only will be when everyone — officials and residents, alike — are on the same page and work together, fully, to get to the same goal, that we truly will get to where we need and want to be.