New city administrator deserves respect of all

The purpose of hiring a city administrator (or superintendent of schools or county coordinator) is to bring professionalism to the day-to-day operations of local government. The administrator oversees city staff, providing direction and implementing the policies of the City Council. The administrator works in conjunction with department heads to ensure things are done responsibly. Not every local resident likes every decision made by an administrator. But, of course, such a standard would be ridiculous.

In the bad old days, the good old boys who ran county boards and city councils liked to stick their noses into everything and make the day-to-day operations of local units of government nearly entirely political. Some in Fairmont have a preference for those days. This can be seen in the way they act these days. They like power, despite their lack of knowledge. Despite their lack of tact. Despite the messes they create.

Fairmont has a new city administrator. Her name is Cathy Reynolds and, from all reports, she is an impressive person, with a background in the U.S. Marines, as a lawyer and in supervisory roles. We extend her our warmest welcome to town and wish her the best of luck.

In the past year, Fairmont has had two main city administrators — Mike Humpal and Mark Sievert. (Public Works director Troy Nemmers also did a stint). Humpal and Sievert were both totally frustrated with the council’s reigning majority. They targeted Humpal even though previous councils worked well with him and gave him high marks in performance reviews. The majority forced him out last fall.

Sievert came on as an interim leader until the council hired Reynolds. Sources close to the situation say Sievert was so aggravated by dealing with members of the majority that he seriously considered walking away, well before a replacement was found. Luckily for local residents, Humpal and Sievert worked through the nonsense for as long as they could.

We hope Reynolds, and the council, fare better in coming months. This is an opportune moment to work together instead of at odds. The council unanimously chose Reynolds, and we hope she receives its unanimous respect as well.


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