by Peter Bodley
Matt Stemwedel has been hired for the newly created Coon Rapids assistant city manager position and started his new job last week.
Stemwedel comes to Coon Rapids from the city of Woodbury, where he was management analyst/assistant to the city manager.
He was chosen from an initial field of 66 applicants, which was reduced to 12 for interviews.
Born in St. Paul Park, Stemwedel graduated from Park High School in Cottage Grove, then earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse in public administration and political science before spending two years at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs on the University of Minnesota campus getting his master’s degree in public policy.
His interest in a career in government administration, rather than politics, took root while he was in college at LaCrosse, according to Stemwedel.
During that time, he served an internship with the city of Onalaska, Wis., which is near LaCrosse, Stemwedel said.
That internship involved job shadowing and a chance to see all facets of city government in operation, he said.
“It lit a fire in me,” Stemwedel said.
And it was in large part the reason he returned to the Twin Cities to go the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to get his master’s degree in public policy, during which time he had the opportunity to intern with the city of Hugo in northern Washington County.
City government management was also the field in which he decided he wanted to start his career and after completing his master’s degree, Stemwedel got a job with the city of Woodbury in early 2007.
There he was responsible for the performance management program, human resources support, lots of research and analysis and projects as needed, according to Stemwedel.
“I wore a lot of hats,” Stemwedel said.
Stemwedel was attracted to the Coon Rapids positions as a “growth opportunity,” he said.
“The challenge is one of the great attractions of the job,” Stemwedel said.
He will be assistant city manager, rather than assistant to the city manager, and part of his responsibilities in Coon Rapids is to head the human resources department of the city.
“I have family living in Coon Rapids and know the community a little bit,” Stemwedel said.
“There’s a lot of great things going on in Coon Rapids, for example the new ice arena and the new clubhouse at the golf course.”
Stemwedel and his wife, Jackie, have a son, Owen, who is two years old, with another child on the way, due in March.
A big sports fan, including hockey and baseball, Stemwedel has played in an adult hockey league at the Schwan’s Super Rink in Blaine for the past five years.
He also loves the outdoors, especially trips to lakes and fishing, Stemwedel said.
Professionally, Stemwedel is president of the Association of Professional Management Assistants and also serves on the legislative commission on performance measurements.
“He brings an excellent array of talent and skills to the position,” said City Manager Matt Fulton.
“He has particular talent in the area of performance measurement and compensation analysis. He will fit in very nicely with our team.”
The assistant city manager job was created through the restructuring of the human resources coordinator position, which was recommended by Fulton and approved by the Coon Rapids City Council last year.
The restructuring occurred following the departure of Joyce Hottinger, former human resources coordinator, who resigned last summer to take a position with the League of Minnesota Cities Human Resources Department.
As assistant city manager, Stemwedel, while not a department director, is part of Fulton’s management team.
The human resources coordinator handled oversight and daily administration of the city’s human resource needs, including supervision and management of personnel recruitment and records management, administration and management of personnel benefits, such as health, life and other insurance benefits as well as timely and effective management of daily personnel issues that arise, oversight and general management of the city’s wellness program and employee training.
In addition, Hottinger had been responsible for administering the Minnesota Pay Equity Act and providing leadership in negotiations with the city’s four union groups.
According to Fulton, some of those tasks were shifted to Jill Pocklington, assistant human resources coordinator, to allow Hottinger to become more involved in general management activities such as the process improvement program and in the development and management of workload and success measures.
The creation of the assistant city manager position “formally recognizes and incorporates all of these responsibilities,” Fulton said.
In addition, Stemwedel will assist in other management areas and special projects, as well as help to position the city in the future as management level retirements occur, he said.
The 2012 budget given final approval by the council in December 2011 included the dollars necessary to accommodate the pay grade increase that came with the restructuring.
No new human resources coordinator will be hired as a result of the restructuring.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org