Friday, August 29, 2014
Jerry Sorte begins day two of his role as Fulton’s assistant director of administration today.
He and his family — a wife and two young children — traveled more than 2,000 miles from Salem, Oregon to Fulton so Sorte could take over the position.
Matt Harline’s last day as the assistant director of administration was July 1, and he is now Centralia’s city administrator.
Sorte said Mid-Missouri area was on his family’s “radar” as a place to move to. They have family in southwest Missouri and friends in Columbia and Centralia. While browsing the city’s website, Sorte saw there was an opening and decided to try and return to an office he was already familiar.
In summer 2005, while a University of Missouri graduate student studying public administration, Sorte interned with the City of Fulton.
“It really left a lasting impression,” Sorte said.
Looking back on his internship, Sorte remembers how he enjoyed problem solving with city employees and how that fueled an interest in local government. Sorte said he was shown how much of an impact local government can have on its community.
Sorte had two main objectives as a Fulton intern: creating a salary survey and learning from each of the departments (which City Administrator Bill Johnson encouraged him to pursue at the time). He said this gave him a “full spectrum” of the inner workings of local government and it was an experience from which he learned many lessons.
Johnson said the city received 60 applications, which was narrowed down to nine. Two questions helped decipher who would come in town for an in-person interview: What is the salary expectation? And, did the applicant intend to live inside Fulton city lines?
Johnson said it’s important for department supervisors to live in the city so they have to live and abide by the rules and regulations the city creates.
Three were then brought in for interviews and Sorte was the favorite among Johnson and four department supervisors.
“It was a unanimous decision by everyone that Jerry possess the technical and personal communication traits and skills we’re looking for,” Johnson said, noting that the final candidates were all exceptional.
With nine years of government experience, Johnson said Sorte came across as a “really good fit” because of his technical abilities (working with budgets), personable nature (dealing with citizens) and supervisory skills (collaborating with elected boards).
Sorte previously worked in Polk County, Oregon in the planning and zoning and community development.
There he aided citizens through the process of obtaining residential scale wind and solar energy systems. Sorte said he led the project, cutting through red tape, as there was a “commercial level of review” for these residencies.
Sorte also worked with individual farmers to create tasting rooms to showcase their products, and spearheaded other community development projects and state highway and road improvements.
When he went into work on Thursday, Johnson said Sorte started to “hit the ground running” with the 2015 operating and capital budgets, and he will also begin familiarizing (or rather, re-familiarizing) himself with the departments.
“He’s not going to have much down time for a while, but I think he’s ready and willing for a challenge,” Johnson said.
Johnson noted the city’s past four assistant directors of administration have gone on to have successful careers as a Federal Bureau of Investigations employee, city manager in a Chicago suberb, insurance executive and as the city administrator of Centralia.
Sorte said he’s happy to be in Fulton, and his family is enjoying the parks in their free time. He added that they appreciate the town’s friendly nature.
“I’m excited for my family to be a part of this community,” Sorte said.
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