Brainerd City Council: Thoreen to step in as interim city admin

Jim Thoreen
Jim Thoreen

A familiar face will return to Brainerd’s administration department.

Former city administrator Jim Thoreen was named interim administrator while the council hunts for someone to take over the full-time position following Cassandra Torstenson’s resignation effective Oct. 3.

Thoreen retired in 2017 after two years on the job. Torstenson took over in January 2018.

Though the city council was three members short Monday, Sept. 16, all four present agreed to hire Thoreen at Torstenson’s current salary and to include a $100 per week living allowance. The total cost amounts to about $6,873.67 per month for Thoreen, who will work 24 hours a week.

Council members Dave Badeaux and Dave Pritschet were absent Monday, as was Tad Erickson, who was appointed to the council last week but has not yet been sworn in.


Last week, council member Kelly Bevans suggested the council open the interim administrator position for external applications. It was also noted two current city staffers expressed interest in the job. Bevans said last week he did not have anything against the staff members who stepped up but wanted to make sure the city wasn’t missing anyone else in the community who might be good for the job.

The council agreed last week to go along with Bevans’ suggestion but rescinded that action Monday in favor of hiring Thoreen.

“I think having somebody come back in outside of city hall right now would be a good choice,” Bevans said.

Council President Gabe Johnson added Thoreen already has experience with the city, meaning he can come back and hit the ground running.

Torstenson said Thoreen had already agreed, if hired, to shadow her Wednesday, which will be her last day with the city before taking an extended vacation. Thoreen will then be able to start as soon as the council wants.

After meeting with Gary Weiers of David Drown Associates last week, council members said they felt the need to fill the interim position as quickly as possible. That’s why, Johnson and Bevans said after the meeting, they did not have qualms about approving the measure with the minimum number of council members to form a quorum.

“We have to go with the person that we’ve hired to help us fill that position, and that person has indicated, ‘move forward,’” Bevans said of Weiers after the meeting.

Johnson added he did not hear any concerns from the three missing council members when the meeting agenda was posted last week.


What’s next?

While Thoreen will take up the position on a temporary basis, the council continues to work with David Drown Associates to find a permanent replacement.

Weiers spoke with the council via video conference Monday night and said he is ready to post the position Tuesday, Sept. 17. The application period will be open for one month, and when that time is up, Weiers will pick the top 10-12 candidates to bring back to the council.

Those candidates will be assigned to complete a video presentation, which the council will then have access to, along with their applications and resumes.

The council will likely conduct interviews with the top candidates in mid-November, with the goal of hiring an administrator shortly thereafter.

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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