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NEW DAKOTA COUNTY MANAGER NARROWED TO 2 FINALISTS

DAKOTA COUNTY has had two County Managers over the last 32 years, Brandt Richardson from 1992-2016 and recently Matt Smith who just retired.  They have had 52 applicants and narrowed the choices to 5 finalists (see the following). The County Manager oversees over 2,000 County employees, provides Commissioners with recommendations and strategic planning, determines the budget and advises and implements the County Commissioners decisions and directions.

FIVE FINALISTS

(In Final 2) JUSTIN MILLER—City Administrator Lakeville

(In Final 2) HEIDI WELSCH—Olmsted County Administrator

SCOTT ARNESON—County Administrator Goodhue County

GEORG FISCHER—Dakota County Director Physical Development

David McKnight—Dakota County Director Enterprise Finance & Information Division


Scott Arneson currently serves as the county administrator for Goodhue County, Minnesota, where he has been in the position for nearly 17 years. Prior to this, he served as the county administrator for Aitkin County, Minnesota, for 11 years, and as an administrative assistant for the City of Faribault, Minnesota, for two years. Arneson has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Concordia College, a master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University, and a master’s degree in financial services and a doctorate degree in leadership from the University of St. Thomas.

Georg Fischer is currently employed by Dakota County, where he has served as the director of the Physical Development Division for two years. He previously served as the director of the Environmental Resources Department for nine years. Prior to this, Fischer served for 20 years in the Minnesota Air National Guard, where he held the positions of Executive Officer (two years), Detachment Commander, 55th CERFP (seven years), and Environmental Manager/Public Health Officer (11 years). He has a bachelor’s degree in biology/chemistry from the University of Minnesota – Duluth, a master’s degree in environmental and public health from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire, and a master’s degree in military operational art and science from Air Command and Staff College.

David McKnight is currently employed by Dakota County, where he has served as the director of Enterprise Finance and Information Services Division for two years. Prior to this, he served as the city administrator for the City of Farmington, Minnesota, for nearly 11 years, as the City Administrator for the City of Mendota Heights, Minnesota, for two years, and as the County Administrator for Dodge County, Minnesota, for eight years. McKnight holds a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and a master’s degree in urban studies, both from Mankato State University.

Justin Miller currently serves as the city administrator for the City of Lakeville, where he has been in the role for more than nine years. Prior to this, he served as the city administrator with the City of Mendota Heights, Minnesota, for three years, as the city administrator with the City of Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for more than five years, and as the assistant city manager and assistant to the city manager with the City of Chanhassen, Minnesota, for four years. Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in political science/business administration from Austin College and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.

Heidi Welsch is currently employed by Olmsted County, Minnesota, where she has served as the county administrator for the past seven years. She previously served as Olmsted County’s deputy administrator for eight months and as the director of Family Support and Assistance for three years. Prior to this, Welsch was employed by 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. She holds a bachelor’s degree in geography/anthropology and a master’s degree in geography from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a doctorate degree in public administration from Hamline University.


On Monday, the County Commissioners invited community leaders from cities in the county and Chamber President Ed Kearney represented our Apple Valley business community along with Mayor Hooppaw, City Administrator Tom Lawell and our County Commissioner Mary Hamann-Roland.

After a reception to get to know the candidates, each candidate gave formal presentations to all present with community leaders (including our Chamber).  Ed Kearney noted that 3 Commissioners asked his opinion afterwards just as they asked everyone else, who he had the best impression of. Both finalists were on Ed’s recommended list of top 3.

The final decision will be made by County Commissioners on July 9th.

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