JANESVILLE — The four finalists in the search for Janesville’s next city manager have backgrounds ranging from work in county administration and at the state treasury department to top administrative roles in suburban communities outside Chicago and Milwaukee.
The city released the finalists’ names Wednesday afternoon, two days after the city council chose them in a closed-door meeting.
JANESVILLE — Janesville city officials have declined to identify those a City Hall release on Monday afternoon called “finalists” for the job of city manager, saying the applicants need a chance to apprise current employers of their job hunt.
The finalists include:
Scott Feldt, county administrator in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin;
George Koczwara, village manager in Orland Park, Illinois;
Waukesha City Administrator Kevin Lahner;
Former Sheboygan City Administrator Todd Wolf
All four candidates, which the city council culled from a tentative list of 32 earlier this year, have backgrounds in local government administration.
That’s a departure from the city’s last manager, Mark Freitag. He was a former U.S. Army colonel with a background leading American military bases, who when hired a decade ago was new to the world of civilian city management. Freitag left Janesville in October for a new job as a city manager in a Denver suburb.
Janesville City Council President Paul Benson said Wednesday the four finalists were narrowed down from a list of 10 that the council reviewed Monday; those had previously been narrowed from a list of 12.
Wednesday’s announcement comes a month before the finalists travel to Janesville for planned interviews and public meet and greets on March 2 and March 3. The city has said it hopes to have a new city manager hired by April.
Janesville Police Chief David Moore remains acting city manager in the meantime.
Scott Feldt, a former resident of Janesville and Evansville, has spent the last eight years as county administrator in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. The county of 20,000 residents is along Lake Michigan just south of Door County.
Feldt served on the Janesville School Board four years until 2014 and was a Rock County Board supervisor from 1997 to 2004.
According to Feldt’s LinkedIn profile, he considers a high point of his work in Kewaunee County adding transparency to the county’s budget by creating documents that show taxpayers a full track record of spending, staffing and work done by each of the county’s two dozen departments.
Prior to his work as a county administrator, Feldt spent four years as Wisconsin’s deputy state treasurer in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, his bio shows.
George Koczwara is the current village manager in Orland Park, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago with a population of 60,000.
Koczwara previously served for 20 years as finance director, treasurer and deputy village administrator in the Chicago suburb city of Crystal Lake, Illinois. He was hired a village manger in Orland Park in 2019, according to a Chicago Tribune report.
Koczwara remains village manager as Orland Park residents face a referendum on April 4 that asks whether the village should continue with a manager-led form of government, according to a Jan. 24 article in the Northwest Indiana Times newspaper.
The Times report calls it a “proposal” that the village’s board and mayor voted in support of. The mayor of Orland Park in a Times report said the referendum has nothing to do with Koczwara’s performance and said Koczwara “works close with me and the board, and we have a great relationship.”
Koczwara was hired as village manager in Orland Park after another former village manager resigned and later sued the village and its mayor for defamation, the Times reported.
Koczwara has graduate and post-graduate degrees in political science and municipal administration.
The Tribune has reported that Koczwara is a native of Chicago’s south side and is married with college-aged children.
Kevin Lahner has been city administrator in Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee, since 2015. He has additional experience as former city administrator in Burlington and assistant manager of Flower Mound, Texas, a Dallas suburb with a population of 70,000.
In Burlington, Lahner oversaw an economic development deal that brought a 54-room hotel to the city’s downtown, according to Waukesha area news reports.
Lahner is a former newspaper reporter for the Dallas Morning News, an Eau Claire native and a UW-Stevens Point graduate, according to a 2015 profile on the WaukeshaNow.com news website.
While a LinkedIn profile shows Todd Wolf as the current manager of the city of Sheboygan, local news reports from early January show Wolf was fired “without cause.” The city said the move was to save money, according to a Jan. 9 report in the Sheboygan Sun newspaper.
According to WHBL Radio in Sheboygan, a former mayor hinted that Wolf’s dismissal after two years at the helm of the city of 50,000 had to do with a municipal diversity and inclusion initiative; the former mayor said Wolf apparently wasn’t supportive of funding.
The former mayor, critical of the council’s moves, said the city couldn’t find cause or wrongdoing. Wolf sought to retain his job at the city. The council placed Wolf on administrative leave on Nov. 7 for undisclosed reasons and the council on Jan. 8 dismissed him in an 8-2 vote, the Sun reported.
Wolf has more than 30 years of prior experience in industry management. He spent 20 years as operations manager at the Sheboygan Paper Box company.
The city of Janesville did not list a current job or employment status for Wolf.
Sign up for our Daily Update & Weekend Update email newsletters!
Get the latest news, sports, weather and more delivered right to your inbox.