Marion City Administrator Doug Kjellin delivered a letter of resignation to Mayor Mary Olson and City Council members Thursday. His last day working for the city will be Sept. 25.
Kjellin said Monday that he is resigning to pursue a private business opportunity that he isn’t at liberty to discuss publicly yet. His upcoming job will allow him to keep his family in Marion.
“We will not be moving the family,” he said.
Kjellin joined the city as economic development director in July 2008. He remained in that position until the council appointed him as city administrator in December 2010, replacing David Mayfield.
Kjellin said his proudest accomplishment for the city was in utility work.
“I’m pretty impressed that the council approved new electric and water meters,” he said. “That’s something that will pay dividends year after year.”
He said his decision to resign was because he was excited about the opportunity that he has, rather than issues as city administrator. However, he said he had been surprised after taking the city administrator position at some things.
“The biggest revelation has been that it’s very difficult to legislate morality and good neighborship,” he said.
So many issues could be solved if the people involved had patience, understanding, and were willing to compromise, he said. He said he wished there was a stronger sense of civility and cooperation.
Council member Todd Heitschmidt said Kjellin has done a good job managing the budget and expenses as administrator. He added that Kjellin started work as economic development director right when the world economy entered a prolonged recession. He said Kjellin made the most of things considering the state of the economy.
Heitschmidt said the council will need to find someone knowledgeable about budgets and taxes to succeed Kjellin. People skills will also be needed to manage the city’s staff, and Heitschmidt said thick skin — “rhino hide” — would be a plus.
Economic development director Roger Holter plans to apply for the position. He was appointed interim city administrator by the council Monday. The council wants to have all applications by Oct. 31.
During a meeting Tuesday of Marion Economic Development Inc., Gene Winkler was asked if the city would try combining the administrator and economic development posts.
“It’s too much for one person to do both jobs,” Winkler said.
Kjellin always set his goals high, which sometimes worked in his favor and sometimes didn’t, Mayor Mary Olson said. It meant he aimed high, but he sometimes had trouble bouncing back if results came up short.
Olson said Kjellin tried to be progressive for the city, noting his work to update utility meters. He pushed for city workers to develop more computer skills, even though some resisted.
“He’s a researcher,” she said.
Olson also said that whenever she disagreed with Kjellin, they could sit down and discuss their differences without it lingering.
“But he likes private industry better than in the fishbowl,” she said.