County Manager Hired (home grown tomato)

The selection of interim manager Paul Kirkwold, caused a bit of a controversy, and why? Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the Board initiated a nationwide search with some thinking that only a proven county manager would fit the bill. One Commissioner, for example, thought that having a background in Human Services and Human Resources was an absolute must. Others had their vision too.

The Board’s final selection (on a 4-3 vote) was Paul Kirkwold longtime County employee. Kirkwold has a managerial and civil engineering background. From the start, Janice stated she was looking for honesty and someone that would get behind and push the Board’s policies and agenda and not their own (see RRR, Summer 1999).

In December, as the selection process neared conclusion, articles in the Pioneer Press started appearing on an every other day basis. Mostly they were about the selection process being convoluted, but they also talked about Kirkwold’s background and skills.

Virginia Rybin 12/11/99, reported Kirkwold is a 32-year employee of the County, from survey crew worker to County Engineer and department head. Paul is born, raised, and educated in St. Paul and a graduate of the U of M 1973, engineering degree and 1964-1967—U.S. Navy gunner’s mate with stint in Vietnam. To Janice, Kirkwold’s credentials reflect honesty and adds, if you will, a hard working, home grown, Minnesota work ethic.

Sandy Vargas, Kirkwold’s counterpart in Hennepin County, stated, in Ronald Clark’s, 12/5/99, St. Paul Pioneer Press Editorial, "To be successful a county manager needs several important traits. They include a participatory style of leadership, not command and control; vision; adaptability; an ability to shape a policy agenda and direction; and good listening and communications skills." Clark, continued, in his editorial, supporters say he is honest, innovative, a good communicator and competent, adding that he will not need on the job training. Varga’s final comment, "[He] would make a very good manager for Ramsey County. He has a nice style, really good leadership attributes, and I sense that he’s a good listener."

At the 1/25/00, congratulatory get together for Kirkwold, Paul thanked his parents for his upbringing which includes a strong religious belief along with a solid work ethic and a penchant to return to the community more than the community has given. "I believe that the County workers are the best bar none. I believe that Ramsey County is a great place to live and to raise a family. This is what my parents did and this is what I am doing. I love my job, and with the support of the workers, I believe that I can do a great job as County Manager. I think that I will prove that an engineer can be an excellent county manager." Janice believes that Paul will continue his excellent performance. And if given the opportunity to perform, someday the 4-3 vote will disappear and become 7-0.

Congratulations on your appointment Paul.

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Author: Commissioner Rettman / Information Services