Rock County administrator finalists announced

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Gina Duwe
Monday, May 5, 2014

JANESVILLE--Two of the three finalists competing to become the next Rock County administrator have worked as an assistant to retiring County Administrator Craig Knutson.

The county board's staff committee interviewed six semifinalists Thursday and Friday and narrowed the field to three finalists. Residents can meet them during a public forum next week.

“We were looking for someone who could bring some experience to the job, and there were a lot of people that had some very good qualifications,” said Russ Podzilni, chairman of the staff committee and county board.

The finalists are Mark G. Mader, Jo Ann M. Miller and Joshua M. Smith. The county released the names of the finalists Monday. The search started with more than 73 applicants.

“These were three of the semifinalists who we felt had the most to bring to the job in Rock County,” Podzilni said.

All interviewed “very well,” he said.

The public is welcome to join more than 300 members of area labor unions, businesses, public officials, community leaders and others invited to the public forum from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at the Pontiac Convention Center to meet the finalists and provide input.

The staff committee will meet the next day, May 16, to discuss its next steps, which could include picking a new administrator and beginning contract negotiations, Podzilni said.

Knutson is being paid $131,549 plus benefits this year.

The staff committee likely would present its pick to the county board for a vote at its June 12 meeting. The goal is to have the new administrator on board for several weeks of overlap before Knutson retires.

Knutson's last day is Aug. 1. He started with the county in 1979 as assistant to the county administrator and became county administrator in 1984.

 Here's more on the candidates:

-- Mader is the chief of staff for Waukesha County, where he was promoted from legislative policy advisor in 2008. Mader served as assistant to the county administrator in Rock County from 1989 to 1993 before leaving to be the manager of budget and administration for the city of Milwaukee. He worked there from 1993 to 1997.

He also worked as the manager of financial systems and controls for Time Insurance and as a senior consultant for Accenture.

Mader said his previous experience working in Rock County was a strong factor in seeking the job.

“I knew the county,” he said Monday. “I very much valued the work that the county administrator had done to help me develop after law school, and the board has a good reputation. All of those were very positive factors.”

He said the county administrator job would be an opportunity to use his private and public sector experience “in a way that would be helpful.”

He also has a master's degree in business administrator and law degree from UW-Madison.

-- Miller is the administrative coordinator in Pierce County, where she has worked since 2011. Previously, she worked as an employment and labor relations specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and was the village administrator in DeForest from 2003 to 2009.

She earlier worked as the city administrator in Jefferson, Iowa, and Perry, Iowa, and was the director of membership services for the Iowa League of Cities.

Miller has a master's degree in public administration from Iowa State University.

The Gazette was not able to reach Miller for comments Monday.

-- Smith is the special assistant to the state auditor at the Legislative Audit Bureau in Madison, where he has worked since 2011. Previously, he was the assistant director of the Office of Operations Review and Audit at the UW System Administration. Smith was the assistant to the county administrator in Rock County from 2005 to 2010.

He also has worked as a senior legislative analyst at the Legislative Audit Bureau and as a research assistant at the National Governors' Association and American University.

Smith has a master's degree in public policy from American University in Washington, D.C.

The Gazette was not able to reach Smith for comments Monday.

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