DECATUR — The man tapped to help lead city government in Decatur says he's looking forward to bringing his diverse background and experience to the role.
City Manager Scot Wrighton said new deputy city manager, Jon Kindseth, was chosen from more than 44 applicants. Kindseth now serves as village administrator for Beach Park, a northern Chicago suburb, and Wrighton said he has experience with several initiatives that will be useful in managing similar projects directed by the city of Decatur.
"While there were a few local applicants, finalists were limited to persons with a master's degree in a field related to urban management and those having several years of direct local government management experience," Wrighton said in an email.
Kindseth said he was born in Minnesota and lived in various places throughout the country while traveling with his family as his father was in the U.S. Army. He has lived in New Orleans, Baltimore, North Carolina and other cities but moved to Illinois in 2006 to pursue a bachelor's degree at Illinois State University. He later earned a master's degree in urban public administration from Northern Illinois University.
Kindseth has worked in Illinois local government and management for more than a decade. Past job titles include: a document reviewer at Compliance LP; finance officer for Ekkekko Microfinance in Bloomington; and assistant to the city manager in Highwood, which is in Lake County. He has served in the Beach Park position for seven years. The village has a population of 13,638, according to the 2010 census.
"The village administrator title is kind of the catch-all for anything that doesn't fall under the department heads," Kindseth said. "I've worked on community revitalization, things like land banks and intergovernmental cooperation."
Kindseth said he knows neighborhood revitalization has and continues to be a priority in Decatur. City leaders in fall 2017 launched the start of a sweeping plan, which hinged on collecting feedback from the public through a series of group meetings. City leaders have said they want to move forward with ideas to strengthen Decatur's core, where years of declining population and disinvestment in aging properties have taken a toll.
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Kindseth said he has experience with a major component of the city's revitalization plan: the demolition of vacant properties. One initiative Kindseth led was the demolition of 40 properties in the Beach Park area. He also organized registries to track vacant, foreclosed and rental properties.
"I helped create a land bank here in Beach Park, which is a vehicle meant to help turn old, dilapidated properties back into productive, tax paying use to help stabilize the neighborhoods," Kindseth said.
A keystone in his career as village administrator career, he said, has been a focus on intergovernmental cooperation. Services that are not the suburb's strongest are provided by other government entities, Kindseth said. For example, Beach Park's law enforcement is contracted through Lake County.
"It is about recognizing what services you do well and putting energy and money behind those," he said. "Services that don't fall under that can be found elsewhere in a partnership with another entity, and this gets a better value for the taxpayer."
The deputy city manager's duties will include assisting the city manager in almost every department's projects and many of the city council's major initiatives, Wrighton said.
"I am up for a new set of challenges to try to bring the skills that I have and the diversity of my background to contribute to Decatur," Kindseth said.
Details about Kindseth's salary were not immediately available. He plans to move to Decatur this month, and he is set to start his new role Sept. 30. He and his wife, Molly, have two children, with a third on the way.