Emporia City Manager Matt Zimmerman was a finalist for the Janesville, Wis., city manager opening, but the town’s city council went in another direction with the selection process Saturday.
The Janesville City Council chose Col. Mark Freitag, deputy commander of the U.S. Army in Alaska, during a closed session, said Council Vice President Matt Kealy in a phone interview Saturday.
“In my personal opinion was Matt and his wife were very nice,” Kealy said. “… We enjoyed having them. It was just we went with what we thought would be the best fit for Janesville.”
Zimmerman was not available for comment as he did not return a phone call or an email.
The city of Janesville had a community engagement Friday evening, which allowed resident interaction with the five candidates, Kealy said.
“We had surveys, which were completed by the attendees for all of the candidates,” he said. “… We had a citizen ad hoc committee, which was comprised of different residents. I think there were 12 residents in attendance from business owners to neighborhood representatives throughout the community. ... We had the candidates meet with our union representative. …. And then, they met with department heads.
“We took the results of all of those interviews in addition to the interviews with the council itself, and we sorted through different recommendations and pros and cons lists that were tabulated to find the best fit for Janesville.”
The city council consulted with Deerfield, Ill.-based Voorhees Associates LLC throughout the city manager selection process, Kealy said. Karl Nollenberger, a vice president with the firm, facilitated with background checks, reference checks and background search and credit reports on all of the candidates.
Janesville, located about 40 miles southeast of Madison, Wis., began its search for a new city manager in May after Eric Levitt became city manager of Simi Valley, Calif. Janesville has a population of 63,588, which is 38,630 more than Emporia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Zimmerman was the city administrator of Prospect Heights, Ill., before he was sworn in as the Emporia city manager on April 18, 2007. His wife is Valerie Zimmerman.