Even with one of its top two picks for county manager pulling out, the Ramsey County Board wasn’t ready Friday to make a selection and begin the hiring process.
The board, which interviewed six candidates for county manager this week, had planned to invite two of them back for a second round of interviews: Matt Kramer, a vice president at the University of Minnesota, and Alene Tchourumoff, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Council.
But Kramer withdrew his application, so the board decided Friday to schedule a second interview with Ramsey County Deputy Manager Ryan O’Connor, along with Tchourumoff.
Commissioners will meet to make a decision immediately following the interviews, scheduled for Tuesday.
“I still want to hear from two candidates,” said Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt. “I see it as an important next step in making our decision, and I’m going to keep an open mind.”
Commissioners Toni Carter and Mary Jo McGuire said they had been ready to start negotiations with Tchourumoff but raised no objection to hearing from another candidate.
The next manager will replace Julie Kleinschmidt, who is retiring after more than 18 years with the county. She has offered to stay on if needed during the transition, depending on how soon the new manager can start.
O’Connor was promoted to deputy county manager in 2016 after working for more than three years as the county’s director of policy and planning. He has worked as an associate for the Twin Cities consulting firm Richardson, Richter & Associates, and he also worked for the Association of Minnesota Counties.
Tchourumoff was appointed Met Council chairwoman last summer by Gov. Mark Dayton. She leads the regional agency that runs Metro Transit, manages wastewater treatment and oversees land-use planning for the seven-county metro area.
Before joining the Met Council, Tchourumoff became the state’s first rail director in early 2016, a role created to better coordinate railroad issues across state agencies. She also oversaw planning for Hennepin County’s Public Works Department and has advised the Federal Railroad Administration in Washington, D.C., among other consulting roles.
In her application, Tchourumoff told the County Board that she planned to remain Met Council chairwoman through the end of the year. She reiterated that intention in an e-mail she wrote to Met Council members and staffers after she was named a finalist for the Ramsey County job.
“I have been very clear about my availability to Ramsey, and regardless of the outcome of these discussions, I am committed to fulfilling my term,” she wrote.