By Anna Jauhola
Following an afternoon of interviews and a night to think on it, the Kittson County Commissioners offered the county’s top position to one of three candidates. As of Monday, Sept. 28, Dillon Hayes has verbally committed to the position, according to Gary Weiers of DDA Human Resources, the company that coordinated the administrator search. The board will approve this move at its next meeting.
Originally, the commissioners were to interview the top five candidates for the county administrator job on Wednesday, Sept. 23, but two backed out. Two interviewed in person and the third did a phone interview.
The board could not decide between two candidates after completing the interviews and left the final decision to Thursday, Sept. 24 during a regular meeting of the board. Through extra discussion, and a 3-2 majority, the board chose to offer the position to Hayes who is the environmental resources manager/land commissioner for Mille Lacs County. The commission was stuck between Hayes and Robert Barnes, who is the deputy director for Casper Re-Entry Center/ Therapeutic Community and Adult Community Corrections in Casper, Wyo.
“I talked to a bunch of people last night, and thought about it most of the night and most of the morning,” said Commissioner Corey Wikstrom via GoToMeeting. “And I like Dillon. I think he’ll do a good job.”
Commissioner Loren Younggren said after the interviews he visited with department heads who were split in liking Hayes and Barnes.
“My thought is I like the technical end of Dillon. He’s young, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” Younggren said. “I left here thinking Robert, and by the time I went to bed last night, I was back to Dillon. … I think Dillon has the experience over Robert by being in county government.”
Board Chair Theresia Gillie said she also had a difficult time choosing between the top candidates, noting Barnes had more experience, but Hayes’ experience with county government was more fitting for the position. In her search for answers, Gillie told the board she consulted former administrator Eric Christensen, who said the board couldn’t make a bad decision in hiring either candidate.
Each commissioner said Barnes gave a great, persuasive interview, but in the end, they agreed Hayes would fit the position better.
“I’ve known Dillon and seen him in action at (Association of Minnesota Counties). I’ve been very impressed with him,” Gillie said. “I don’t feel employees or anyone will walk over him. I think he is strong enough and in a place to take on the leadership role. He understands county government.”
Commissioners Darrel Johnson and Leon Olson both said they left Wednesday’s interviews thinking they wanted Hayes, but had been swayed by Thursday morning to support hiring Barnes.
“I think they’re both qualified and we can’t make a bad decision,” Johnson said. “Either would be good, but my vote goes to (Barnes).”
Olson said the board had “two great candidates,” and also put his vote toward Barnes.
However, the majority ruled and the board chose unanimously to offer the position to Hayes.
By Anna Jauhola