The position of Prior Lake city manager will be offered to Chanhassen Public Works Director and City Engineer Jason Wedel, city council members decided Monday.
The offer brings Wedel full circle professionally. In April, he left a two and a half year stint with Prior Lake as its Public Works director and city engineer in for the job in Chanhassen.
Interim City Manager Lori Olson told the Prior Lake City Council during a special meeting that Wedel could start the position early next month, following the completion of a successful background check.
The council is scheduled to vote on Wedel’s contract during their next meeting on Oct. 7.
“Everything that Jason has done, he does it to very high standards, with very high ethics and with much success,” Council member Annette Thompson said during city deliberations. “I’m confident that with this new venture for him he will do the same.”
Wedel said his prior experience as both a property developer and city engineer make him the right candidate for this particular moment in Prior Lake.
“The city’s got some major things going on right now: some major construction, we’ve got this issue with development fee,” he said. “I feel like I’m the right person to guide the city through that process. And I get really excited about what the other side of that is going to look like for the city.”
Wedel was one of three candidates selected as finalists for the position earlier this month.
The city launched into an accelerated search process in August after the council fired former city manager Michael Plante following domestic abuse charges filed against him.
The finalists, Wedel, Tracy Hatch and Al Roder, went through a public interview process with the council and mayor. The council interviewed each finalist and heard staff and city partner recommendations before making their decision.
During Wedel’s interview he outlined an extensive personal and professional history with the city.
Wedel, his wife and two children live just outside city boundaries but have maintained close involvement with Prior Lake life for more than 20 years. He said both of his children attended Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools and worked for the city in a variety of summer jobs.
“We just have a deep love for this community. It’s a great place and it’s where I want to be,” Wedel said.
Wedel, originally from Eden Prairie, came to Prior Lake through his time with local firm WSB & Associates. Over the course of his career he managed municipal engineering projects in Prior Lake and communities like Woodbury, Wayzata and Elk River.
He spent almost seven years in Savage as both the city’s public works director and city engineer and as vice chair of the city’s Planning Commission.
Wedel received an master’s in business administration from Bethel University and a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota.
Council members, staff and city partners all emphasized Wedel’s prior experience with the structure of local governance and his pristine professional reputation as major pluses.
“I can’t think of one reason why we wouldn’t hire him,” Thompson said.”He can jump in with both feet and hit the ground running.”
Finance Director Cathy Erickson said in a presentation of staff and regional feedback on the candidates to the city council that Wedel was known by city partners as being “solutions-oriented” and a great community partner.