With Thistle, Albertville gets 45 years experience
BY AARON BROM
Bob Thistle retired five years ago after a four-decade career.
It’s just that, somewhere along the way, he forgot to actually retire and remained active in some role with open government.
His latest role is to provide leadership in Albertville following an April vacancy of its city administrator position.
So far, so good, he said. “I haven’t gotten into any trouble,” he said of the interim administrator position he started in July.
Most recently he completed a five-month stint last year to similarly help Elk River in an interim capacity. Prior to that he was a financial advisor and executive vice-president for the Springstead Corporation in St. Paul. Indeed, Thistle has worked with Albertville in the past as a Springstead representative.
Before Springstead, Thistle worked as the Coon Rapids manager for 11 years.
After retiring five years ago, he kept busy as a volunteer with the League of Minnesota Cities and an International City Management Association mentor.
“In Albertville my task is to work with the city council in terms of their leadership and to help the city on a daily basis with operations,” he said. “So far, I’ve been getting to know staff. A lot of reading, catching up on city development plans, and communication.”
He also said he’s been touring the city and getting to know individuals. He’ll be furthering that process.
“Right now it’s a learning experience,” he said. “You have to learn the uniqueness of the community.”
So, what is his management style?
“Generally, at this point in my career I’m a facilitator,” he said. “A resource to staff and the city council. I’m a problem solver. I like to make things happen, and I believe in the importance of local government.”
Thistle grew up in Detroit and worked in government in Iowa before locating to Minnesota in 1979 for the Coon Rapids job. He and wife, Julie Linnihan, reside in Coon Rapids. And he’s a proud grandpa of nine grandchildren. Aside from work he enjoys woodworking and gardening.
He’s also the Anoka County Library Board President, and is a member of the Coon Rapids Civil Service Commission.
He expects to work in Albertville for six to eight months. The city council is determining whether to hire an administrator search firm for the permanent job, or to use Thistle to train in city engineer Adam Nafstad for the job.
“Albertville has gone through enormous change,” he said. “It’s gone through a difficult economic period but beginning to see some development in residential and commercial. I’ve had a good life in (government) and I wanted to give back.”