East Grand Forks city clerk appointed interim city administrator during special council meeting

Nelson will fill the interim position when City Administrator David Murphy leaves. Murphy's last day is April 21

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East Grand Forks City Hall. Herald file photo.

EAST GRAND FORKS – City Council members, during a special meeting Tuesday, appointed City Clerk Megan Nelson as interim city administrator while a search for a full-time administrator is pursued.

Nelson will fill the interim position when City Administrator David Murphy leaves. Murphy's last day is April 21.

Three city employees expressed interest in filling in as interim administrator, including Nelson; Reid Huttunen, the parks and recreation superintendent; and Karla Anderson, the finance director.

In a regularly scheduled work session meeting prior to the special meeting, council members discussed the interim position, including the duties and the reasoning behind choosing Nelson.

As mentioned at previous council meeting discussions regarding finding an interim, Murphy said many of the available candidates are located outside of East Grand Forks. After a March 14 meeting, the council directed Murphy to seek out interested internal candidates to fill in as interim.


While Huttunen and Anderson expressed interest in filling in as interim administrator, both are members in the department head union. City Attorney Ron Galstad said city administrators aren’t allowed in unions.

“There are a couple of different reasons for that, but primarily because of the confidential information that position would hold being in a union position. That’s to protect the city from, say, union negotiations and those types of things,” Glastad said. “The other thing is any type of subversive performances or activities by the managerial employee could pose on the union to be able to protect the union.”

Galstad said he couldn’t find anything that said whether it’s illegal to be a union department head while in an interim city administrator position, but between the National Labor Relations Act and the Minnesota Public Employer Labor Relations Association, “it’s not advisable,” Galstad said.

Anderson said she thought being in the interim position would mean she would no longer be in the union since she would have a new title for the time being.

“If you’re considered interim administrator then you’re not the director of parks and recreation and I’m not the finance director,” she said.

Several council members — including Mark Olstad and Brian Larson — backed choosing Nelson as the interim, since she has worked closely with Murphy over the years.

“I believe that Ms. Nelson has a wonderful skill set and is in a position where she can help make sure this is a smooth transition,” Larson said.

Despite Huttunen and Anderson not being selected for the interim position, Mayor Steve Gander recommended that they apply for the full-time position — an idea that was also supported by Larson.


“... I’m also strongly in favor of internal candidates and I would really encourage Ms. Anderson and Mr. Huttunen to apply for the position. Not the interim position, but for the position of city administrator,” Gander said. “I think you would both be wonderful candidates and I think that’s a better fit.”

The roles the interim administrator were also considered by council members. Gander said since the interim will still be handling current duties, he suggested to “peel off” some duties of the city administrator and distribute them to various departments.

“I really don’t see how a person could step away completely from their other role and maybe that’s part of why we’ll need to pull off a little bit of the city administrator portion to put onto folks also,” Gander said.

In other news, council members reviewed an addendum to the lease agreement with Valley Golf to specify that if the city damages the golf cart path due to the flood fight efforts, the city would be responsible for maintaining the path.

Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or

Pronouns: She/Her
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