• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

West Fargo to hold interviews for finance director in executive session – InForum

WEST FARGO — A West Fargo hiring committee that includes Mayor Bernie Dardis and Commissioner Roben Anderson will meet in closed session on Friday, April 19, to interview three candidates for the open finance director position.

“The hiring committee has not yet named finalists based on the pre-screening of applicants,” said Rachel Richter Lordemann, communication manager in an email. The purpose of the interviews being held on Friday is to identify if the committee would like to move any of these applicants into the finalist stage.”

The city cited two North Dakota Century Codes in announcing the interviews. Century Code 44-04-18.27 law says that if a public body receives applications from three or more applicants who meet the minimum qualifications for a vacant position, the public entity shall designate three or more of the qualified applicants as finalists for further consideration. Until candidates are deemed “finalists” for a position, their names and information can be kept confidential. Code 44-04-19.2 says, “A governing body may hold an executive session to consider or discuss closed or confidential records.”

“It seems they have chosen three people as “finalists” but by not designating them as such they are sticking to the letter of the law rather than the spirit,” said Jack McDonald, attorney for the North Dakota Newspaper Association.

Three finalists for the city administrator position that Dustin Scott filled last year were interviewed publicly. Most recently, two new city staff managers were interviewed publicly.

“When (finance director) finalists are named, we will follow the same public process as we have in the past,” Richter Lordemann said in an email. “There will not be a hiring decision made without following the process of naming finalists and holding finalist interviews.”

The city is currently looking for its third finance director in less than two years. Heide Delorme resigned in February after being hired in May 2023. She replaced former Finance Director Judith Afdahl, who had resigned on April 7. Afdahl began as finance director in late August 2022 following the departure of Jim Larson, who was hired in 2018.

Delorme was selected as one of three finalists out of 14 applications for the finance director position.

The hiring committee had also considered West Fargo resident Eric Carlson and Iowa resident Brian Majeski. Scott said Monday that two of the three applicants who will be interviewed on Friday are from out of the region.

In November, West Fargo Attorney John Shockley admitted the city likely violated open meeting laws

after commissioners met outside of public meetings and reviewed plans by a building exploratory committee to recommend leasing space south of Interstate 94 to be used as a City Hall. In a letter to the Attorney General’s office, in response to an opinion request filed by The Forum, Shockley said his office would conduct “additional training seminars” with city staff and the commission. Although scheduling training was said to be coming at commission meetings in February and March, training has not been posted at this time.

Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum.

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