After only one year on the job, former Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein left the Minneapolis Downtown Council abruptly Wednesday, saying he didn’t take to the details of the work.
Stenglein and the council’s executive committee agreed on Monday to split, both sides said. “It’s time for me to move on,” Stenglein said.
Downtown Council board chairman Collin Barr issued a written statement but didn’t explaing the parting. Barr said he accepted Stenglein’s resignation at a private meeting and the executive committee endorsed the action. “I thanked Mark, on behalf of the Board for his service, and, shared our best wishes for his new pursuits,” the statement said.
Asked if he was fired, Stenglein said, “No.”
Such quick turnover at the top is unusual for the council. Stenglein’s predecessor as president and CEO, Sam Grabarski, stayed for 16 years. The nonprofit council represents the interests of about 300 businesses and regional companies, touching on topics from litter and public safety to stadiums and light-rail transit. It also puts on the Holidazzle parade and the Aquatennial summer festival.
The council listed revenue of $2.5 million in 2011, the most recent year available. Stenglein’s salary wasn’t available, but Grabarski’s total compensation in 2011 was $285,410.
Representatives from some of the city’s most influential organizations sit on the board, including Tres Lund, CEO of Lund Food Holdings Inc.; Bob Lux, owner of Block E; Tom Hoch, president of the Hennepin Theatre Trust; David Sternberg, senior vice president of Brookfield Properties; Bill Chopp, senior vice president at Hines; and Deborah Hopp from MSP Communications.
For 15 years, Stenglein represented north Minneapolis and connected suburban areas on the Hennepin County Board. Before that, he was a small-business owner. He resigned his County Board seat early last year to take the council job.
The council looked to Stenglein to strengthen relationships with Minneapolis City Hall and the state.
Stenglein took credit for boosting the board’s membership and raising money, but said he didn’t enjoy some of the administrative details of the job. “What I like to do is go get the meat and let somebody else cook it,” he said. “I’m a people person.”
Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Johnson agreed that the public relations aspect of the job was a good fit. “We were delighted on the council that he was chosen for that job because of his ability to come and visit with us,” she said. “We like to be in the mix.”
Mayor R.T. Rybak praised Stenglein as a “good partner” and wished him the “best of luck.”
In terms of a new job, Stenglein said he’s already looking. “The one thing I pride myself on is I’ve got a good reputation and I’ve got a lot of contacts,” he said.
Stenglein, who ran for Minneapolis mayor in 2001, ruled out one possibility, saying, “I’m not running for office.”
Betsy Buckley, owner of What Matters, will serve as interim president, but will not pursue the position permanently, Barr said.