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Kandiyohi County Administrator a Finalist for City Post in North Dakota

WEST FARGO, North Dakota — The West Fargo City Commission has narrowed the list of candidates for the city administrator position to three finalists, including the current interim administrator, Assistant City Administrator Dustin Scott.

Along with Scott, the finalists include Kelsey Baker, of Benson , Minnesota, and Shawn Kessel, of Fargo.

The West Fargo City Commission held a special meeting Monday, Sept. 18, to narrow the field of candidates for the city administrator job down to three finalists.

According to Communications Manager Rachel Richter Lordemann, the city received about 40 applications for the position. Of those, about nine candidates met the minimum requirements for the job.

Baker is the county administrator in Kandiyohi County , where she began working in November 2022. Willmar, Minnesota, is the seat of the west-central county, which has a population of about 43,000.

Previously, she served as Swift County, Minnesota, administrator starting in 2017 after working as executive director at a senior living facility in Sartell. She started her career in South Dakota, where she was a marketing and executive assistant for the South Dakota Housing Authority and later served as a public information officer for the South Dakota Department of Revenue.

Baker holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, Advertising and Management Communications from North Dakota State University and an Executive Master of Public Administration from the University of South Dakota.

Kessel serves as the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s chief operating officer and deputy commissioner. He has also served as an interim director of the department when former director James Leiman resigned in June 2022, as well as in 2018 and 2020.

Prior to working at the state, Kessel served as the Dickinson City Administrator from 2009 to 2018. According to The Dickinson Press, Kessel is a native of Dickinson and was part of the first graduating class at Trinity High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Minnesota State University-Moorhead and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Mary.

Scott has been serving as the city’s interim administrator since April. A native of West Fargo and a West Fargo High School graduate, Scott worked as the city’s primary engineer when the city contracted with Moore Engineering for engineering services.

In 2019, he was hired as the city’s first on-staff engineer. In April 2022, he was named deputy city administrator. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Engineering from the University of North Dakota.

The finalists will be interviewed Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The city hired consultants Baker Tilly for about $26,000 to find candidates for the city’s top supervisory position after former City Administrator Tina Fisk abruptly resigned in March.

The city administrator oversees all city departments and is the direct supervisor of department heads including the police and fire chiefs. The city administrator also serves as the city auditor and works with the finance director to present an annual budget for commission approval.

Notice of the 9 a.m. meeting was sent to local media at 8:23 a.m. Monday. The meeting was intended to discuss the applicants after the commission failed to narrow the field during a special meeting held Sept. 11.

The commission entered into executive session to discuss candidates shortly after 9 a.m. and returned to the hallway of City Hall around 1:30 p.m., where they adjourned the meeting with no discussion.

Source : West Central Tribune