Five finalists narrowed down for Dakota County manager position

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Out of 52 applicants, five remain who could hold the title of Dakota County’s next county manager.

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners narrowed down five finalists to fill the role of county manager following the May 23 retirement of former manager Matt Smith, who held the role for eight years.

“This has been a great opportunity, but at some point, you need to step back and let someone else take over, and this is the time,” Smith told the Pioneer Press earlier this year.

The five finalists are:

Scott Arneson, county administrator for Goodhue County
Georg Fischer, director of Dakota County Physical Development Division
David McKnight, director for Dakota County Enterprise Finance and Information Services Division
Justin Miller, city administrator for Lakeville
Heidi Welsch, county administrator for Olmsted County

As the top role in the county, the county manager oversees operations and collects a salary in the ballpark of $234,000, according to the county.

Arneson has been in his current role of Goodhue County administrator for nearly 17 years and prior to that, he served as the Aitkin County administrator for 11 years, according to a news release from Dakota County.

Fischer has held his current role with the county for two years and previously served as director of the Environmental Resources Department for nine years. He also served for 20 years in the Minnesota Air National Guard, per the release.

Prior to his current position with Dakota County, McKnight worked as the city administrator for Farmington for nearly 11 years, as the city administrator for Mendota Heights for two years and as the county administrator for Dodge County for eight years, per the release.

Miller, who has held the title of Lakeville city administrator for over nine years, also served as the city administrator for Mendota Heights for three years, city administrator for Falcon Heights for over five years and as the assistant city manager and assistant to the city manager for Chanhassen for four years.

Welsch has been in her current position as Olmstead County administrator for the past seven years and previously served as the county’s deputy administrator for eight months and as the director of Family Support and Assistance for three years, per the release.

Welsch also previously worked for Dakota County as the manager of the Office of Planning and Analysis for six years and as the deputy director of Employment and Economic Assistance for two years.

The next step for the five finalists, who were selected on May 21, will be an interview with the Board of Commissioners on June 24.

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