STAR JOURNAL REPORT
No action was taken by the Rhinelander City Council during a closed session meeting Monday night. The council met for an hour-and-a-half to continue discussions surrounding the hiring of a city administrator. After the meeting Mayor Chris Frederickson said he had no announcement to make.
“We’re continuing to make progress,” Frederickson said. “We hope to have a decision to announce at the next regular council meeting, August 13.”
The administrator “short list” was released to the public July 18. Here is a a look at the top three candidates.
Daniel Guild, former village administrator of Weston, Jeff Eder, city administrator for East Peoria, Ill., and Stephen Kil, town manager of St. John, Ind. have made the final cut after an initial pool of 39 candidates. The second round of interviews with the final three candidates was held Friday in closed session, a phase that lasted into early afternoon before the council moved into deliberation over the candidates.
Each of the candidates comes from an administrative background; however, the majority have a controversial history mirroring the last few years of turmoil in Rhinelander’s own city administrator position.
A joint statement from the Weston Village Board and Daniel Guild on July 17 stated that Guild had voluntarily resigned as village administrator, a move coming on the heels of a 30-day unpaid suspension for violating the terms of his employment. That suspension, according to the release, was retroactively voided in conjunction with his resignation. The release took the opportunity to thank Guild for his service and reflect on his successes in the community.
According to a 2017 work performance review, Guild had been “tardy and unavailable,” unreceptive of constructive criticism and unrealistic in his demands for his staff.
However, multiple department heads and the former deputy attorney general wrote letters upon his suspension affirming his character and work ethic. In a statement released to local Wausau media dated June 25, Guild said he did not know the reason for the 30-day suspension but that he intended to go back to work for the city of Weston.
By that time, he had already interviewed for Rhinelander’s city administrator position. According to council president George Kirby, the council was aware that he was on a suspension from his position in Weston when he first interviewed for the position on June 22.
When the vice president of the company hired to find a city administrator for Rhinelander was asked why a candidate on suspension was being considered for a position that has experienced its own share of upheaval in the past few years, Lee Szymborski of GovHR said that he looked for candidates with the background and experience to be a good fit for Rhinelander, and that “bumps along the way” were normal.
Jeff Eder was hired in July of 2016 on a two-year contract as city administrator for East Peoria, according to the East Peoria Times-Courier. That contract would be up this month; the Daily News Journal also named him in May as one of 11 finalists for city manager of Murfreesboro, Tenn., a city with a population well over 100,000. His Linkedin page also lists work experience as director of community development and director of economic development, as well as a master’s degree in business administration.
According to Stephen Kil’s Linkedin profile, he has been the town manager of St. John since 2000, and holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Indiana University. He was charged in 2015 with the theft of political signs in St. John. According to the Kingman Daily Miner, Kil had first approved the action with the town attorney as abating a zoning violation. Kil appeared in court for the misdemeanor charge this March, at which time he was also a finalist for the city manager position in Kingman, Ariz.
Rhinelander’s city administrator position has been vacant since interim city administrator Keith Kost’s resignation on April 25. Kost was aiding in the search for a full-time administrator prior to his resignation, and had recommended GovHR to the city council as the best company to spearhead that search. The position is being advertised at a salary of $87,000-$95,000 plus benefits.