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Ziegler trades positions in W’bago

By Staff | Dec 16, 2012

The new Winnebago city administrator only had to make a few small steps from the council chamber to the city office to fill the open position.

A long-time resident of Winnebago and former council member, Chris Ziegler was more than relieved to be able to make that transition, as he began his employment with the city on Dec. 3.

While he was relieved to be offered the position and begin work for Winnebago, he admits he was also sad.

Ziegler was the director of business management for Human Services of Faribault and Martin counties before he accepted the city administrator position.

“I was sad to leave the county, I met a lot of good people there,”?he adds.

However, he’s a couple weeks into his employment and is already getting in the swing of everything that’s been handed off to him.

“Both Austin (Bleess) and Wendell (Sande) left a lot of good notes,”?Ziegler says.

He admits that he has had to call and e-mail them both a couple times. But, they have been really helpful to him throughout the process.

Once Ziegler gets a better handle on things in the office, he looks forward to networking in the community.

“It helps that I do already know a lot of the business owners in town here,”?he says.

But, he hopes to branch out and get to know leaders in other communities, as well.

“I’m really interested in economic development for Winnebago,”?he adds.

So, he feels that branching out will help him acquire new ideas for the city.

Ziegler’s past experience on the council has also helped him with some of the duties as the administrator.

Last Tuesday was his first City Council meeting as the new administrator, and his previous council member experience has played a role.

“I was already familiar with the process and how to put together the council packet,” he says. “So, I? kind of knew what to expect at the meeting.”

But being on the council had also placed a small doubt in the back of his mind about applying for the city administrator position.

Not only was he aware of all of the responsibilities tied to the job, he also recognized that there are always many variables for the position as well.

“Sometimes past councils have had to make rash decisions, so it can leave a level of uncertainty,”?he adds. “But, that’s a risk I was willing to take.”

The encouragement from community members pushed him to apply, and it was the very same thing that kept his morale high throughout the interview process.

“Even people I’ve had previous disagreements with from my time on the council, had encouraged me to take the position,”?Ziegler says.

That gave him confidence that Winnebago residents would respect his take on things, even if their views differed sometimes.

“I have to thank the people that supported me as both a council person and in this position as well,”?Ziegler says.

As he stated in his interview, he has a passion to continue making Winnebago a great place to live and he felt this was the perfect venue to do so.

“I just have to get into the groove of things and then I can look at ways to improve,”?he says.

Ziegler says that not only has he had people call to congratulate him and wish him well, they’ve also given him another message.

“People congratulate me, but then say they have things to discuss with me later,”?he jokes. “But, most of them will also say that they’ll give me some time to get used to the position first.”

But he doesn’t mind people bringing ideas and concerns to him.

“Job security, I guess,”?he jokes.