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Baxter City Council: Administrator candidate withdraws, new finalist considered

BAXTER—A finalist for the city administrator position in Baxter has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Kelly Steele, acting city administrator, told the council Tuesday night that Patrick W. Antonen of Centerville, Iowa, withdrew his name after accepting a position elsewhere.

Steele asked council members whether they would like to add a third candidate for consideration when interviews are conducted July 28 and July 29. She noted the interview process is already structured to accommodate three finalists, and one of those on the short list identified by staff received two "Top 3" votes from council members.

"I don't see any harm in bringing in a third candidate," said Quinn Nystrom, council member. "I think the time's already scheduled in our calendar books. The more the merrier."

The council approved adding a third finalist for consideration. The new finalist is Mark Winson of Las Cruces, N.M. Winson is currently the special projects manager for Las Cruces, which has a population of more than 101,000 people. An article in the Las Cruces Sun-News noted Winson was the assistant city manager since 2011, but was reassigned after indicating he intended to move back to Minnesota this year. Winson earned a master's degree in strategic leadership from Mountain State University in Beckley, W. Va., and earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Winson joins two other finalists previously identified:

• Kevin C. Flanagan, Fairfield, Iowa. Flanagan was previously city administrator/planning director for the city of Fairfield with about 9,500 residents. Flanagan has a Master of Public Administration from North Georgia College and State University.

• Michael Rietz, Barnsville, city administrator for city of Barnesville. Reitz has a Master of Arts and Public Administration from Hamline University in St. Paul and a law degree from Hamline. Barnesville has a population of more than 2,563.

On July 5, council members agreed to have a casual dinner on July 28 and then host a gathering so members of the public could meet the candidates. Steele said Tuesday the schedule was switched, with the meet-and-greet now scheduled first followed by the dinner.

Interviews will be conducted by the full council the morning of July 29 with the council meeting in a working lunch as they deliberate. Candidates would also be able to tour the city with staff members that Friday.

The council agreed to pay up to $500 in expenses to potentially cover the cost of lodging, travel and meals for the candidates.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 218-855-5874 or Follow on Twitter at

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in professional journalism at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Perkins interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins, and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before becoming the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as the county government beat reporter at the Dispatch and a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

(218) 855-5874