Our Views: Posing questions for Janesville city manager candidates

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Residents likely would love shots at questioning the five finalists for Janesville city manager. A citizens committee will interview the candidates Friday and forward possible recommendations to the city council, which also will quiz the five Friday. No media representative is on the committee.

If The Gazette Editorial Board had the opportunity, here are questions it would pose:

Mark Freitag: You've spent your career in the military. How would you deal with the difference between the military, where leaders expect orders to be obeyed without question, and the civilian world, where city managers deal with disagreement and conflict inherent in representative government? You have much experience around armored vehicles and also speak Russian. Janesville has few such vehicles or Russian speakers. How could your background bring fresh ideas and perspectives to help move our city forward?

William Malinen: You resigned from your last job, as city manager in Roseville, Minn., before finding a new one, which makes it look like either the council didn't like your performance or that you might flee at the first sign of conflict or disagreement. Tell us why that perception is wrong. Roseville has about 34,000 people, about half the size of Janesville. Convince us that you're ready to step up to a bigger city facing many challenges.

Ryan McCue: You have a journalism degree and no master's in management or public administration comparable to those of the other candidates. You weren't named a finalist until another candidate dropped out; you failed in a re-election bid as mayor of Cudahy, and you're working as city administrator, clerk and treasurer for tiny Wautoma, population 2,200. Why should anyone think you're ready for such a big move up?

Jay Winzenz: How did lessons learned under the contrasting styles of Janesville's last two city managers, Steve Sheiffer and Eric Levitt, shape your outlook and attitude about city service? If you weren't ready to be a candidate for the top job in 2008 after Sheiffer retired, why should we be confident that you're ready to lead our city now?

Matthew Zimmerman: You say your present city of Emporia, Kan., has an extensive parks program, a municipal golf course and even a zoo. How would experience dealing with these help you manage this City of Parks? You told our reporter that Emporia is a college town and noted Janesville's proximity to UW-Whitewater and UW-Madison. Did you know Janesville is home to UW-Rock County, and how might your college-town background benefit our university and the community in general?

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