New city administrator starts Monday

By HANNAH JOHNSON – Stillwater Gazette

LAKE ELMO – This city’s new administrator is finally coming to town.

Starting Monday, Dean Zuleger will take over the city administrator post. The Lake Elmo city council appointed Zuleger earlier this month during a special city council meeting.

Zuleger, 50, was the former village administrator of Weston, Wis., and was selected for the Lake Elmo’s position out of 30 applicants. His starting salary is $104,000. Zuleger succeeds former City Administrator Bruce Messelt, who is now the Chisago County administrator.

"I’ve been drawn to the Twin Cities-area and have been looking for opportunities around here," Zuleger said.

When Zuleger saw that Lake Elmo was looking for a new city administrator he immediately sent in his resume and was happy to receive a phone call for an interview.

Zuleger prides himself in taxpayer service. He has held several executive positions with private industry, trade associations and non-profit organizations. He has also held staff positions in legislators’ offices.

"In all reality when you’re running a small government you’re running a small business," Zuleger said. "Your taxpayers are your investors."

Zuleger said it all comes down to listening to the taxpayers in order to give them the best service possible, whether it’s "plowing the street or mowing the lawn in a park."

Lake Elmo drew Zuleger’s interest because of its rural community that’s so close to the Twin Cities.

"I bring a lot of energy," Zuleger said.

City Councilman Brett Emmons agreed. He said the council had several good candidates, but Zuleger really resonated with the council.

"He seemed to be innovative and creative with handling city [government]," Emmons said.

Both Zuleger’s private and public work experience gave him the edge. Plus, his energy and creativity will come in handy as the city continues to establish its city-run library and develop a long-term plan for downtown, Emmons said.

"He has dealt with some developments and we felt he is capable to deal with some of the pressures we have," Emmons said.

"I think the library project is going to be a fun project because I think it’s one of the things you can get the community involved in," Zuleger said. "My wife and I have always been active in children literacy issues, so I think this will be fun to start off with."

Zuleger is married and has four grown children and one new granddaughter. He will be living in the St. Croix Valley while his wife and youngest daughter, who is finishing her senior year of high school, will continue living in Weston until their daughter graduates.

"I’m really excited because I think the staff and I hit it off," Zuleger said. "It’s an energetic, forward-looking council and I’m looking forward to working with all of them."