By a unanimous vote of the Dixon City Council, David Nord was hired Tuesday evening as the first city administrator in Dixon’s long history. He began his duties the next day.
Nord already has heard from many leaders and members of the community about what they believe needs to be done. He said he will seek input from city council members as to their top priority items, and that he has his own thoughts as well.
We hope Nord won’t mind if we offer some suggestions and observations of our own.
Mr. Nord, you come into a community that was shaken by the Rita Crundwell scandal. It’s also a community with a strong enough foundation to endure the shaking and come out stronger, given the right leadership.
Crundwell, the former comptroller who stole more than $53 million, represented everything that can go wrong in city government.
Along with her secret thefts, she deceived the mayor, council, and fellow employees. She created a culture within city hall where at least two colleagues felt no compunction in borrowing money from her, which, we believe, created unhealthy conflicts of interest as far as the good of the public was concerned.
Crundwell took advantage of the unprofessionalism bred by the commission form of government, where part-time amateurs are elected to run large departments with big budgets and many employees. Crundwell betrayed the trust placed in her, and the city suffered.
Mr. Nord, we hope you represent everything that can go right in city government.
First and foremost are honesty and integrity. Your 7 years served on the ethics committee of the Illinois City/County Management Association speaks well of your commitment to those pillars of public trust.
Openness and transparency are crucial, we believe. The process that led to your hiring, Mr. Nord, is a good example of what we mean. A 10-person committee, including members of the public, helped to identify you as the top candidate for city administrator. Your proposed contract was made public, and through a meet-and-greet session, people got the chance to take your measure – all before the council voted to hire you.
The city has made strides toward improving the professionalism of its operations. In the past, loose guidelines regarding the use of city-issued credit cards allowed the former city engineer to run up thousands of dollars in personal expenses. Under your watch, Mr. Nord, such abuse must never be allowed.
Neither, we believe, should city employees be permitted to borrow large sums of money from each other. Perhaps, Mr. Nord, your connections with the City/County Management Association can help you to craft a policy in that regard.
You have done your research, Mr. Nord, so you know that Dixon has a proud history and many advantages. It also has residents who want to trust their government but are wary, and rightly so. A friendly demeanor toward the public, an open-door policy at your office, and transparency will help to win them over.
You might have wondered about Dixon’s designation as the Petunia City, even though block after block of streetside flower beds are no longer planted with the pink flowers. The soil is depleted, we are told. Hanging flower baskets replaced the flower beds several years ago.
While this problem may not be in your job description, if you could help bring back the petunias, it would put smiles on many faces and be a visible commitment on your part to improving the city’s image.
A lot of people have wanted Dixon to have a city administrator. Now, Mr. Nord, you’re it. People want you to succeed, because your success will be Dixon’s success.