OTTUMWA — Two finalists for the vacant city administrator’s position have been named. Joseph Gaa and Phillip Rath will be formally interviewed by the city later this month.
Mayor Tom Lazio said Tuesday evening a third finalist had withdrawn from consideration after making that cut.
Gaa is the city adminstrator for Dickinson, N.D. A move to Ottumwa would be a return to Iowa for Gaa. The Dickinson Press reported in October 2018 that he arrived in the city from Chariton. He has also served as city administrator in Woodbine, Iowa.
Rath served as city administrator for Monroe, Wis., from late 2010 until October of last year. He previously served as village administrator in Clinton, Wis. and several smaller communities in the upper Midwest. Rath’s LinkedIn profile shows he received an MPA from the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh in 2004 and studied economics at Ripon College.
The final phase of the hiring process begins Friday, Jan. 24, when the candidates will tour the city and meet with staff and a community panel. A social hour is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Bridge View Center so the public can interact with the finalists.
Interviews begin the next day at 8:30 a.m. in the council chambers at City Hall. Those interviews will be open to the public, and will allow the city council to determine which of the candidates, if either, it wishes to hire. A formal vote “could take place at the next available City Council meeting,” according to the city’s release on the candidates.
Ottumwa has lacked a permanent city administrator since Andy Morris resigned in August. Lazio has stepped away from his duties as mayor to serve as interim city administrator until one is found.
In October, the city hired Moulder & Associates to conduct the search for a new city administrator. While nothing prohibits cities from conducting their own searches, many use professional search firms that rely on both advertising for the position and a network of contacts with potential applicants.