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Meet the Candidates: Stephen C. Rasmussen

Thursday, November 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:06 p.m. CDT, Thursday, June 26, 2008

Personal

He is 57, married and has two daughters, ages 24 and 20.

Professional experience

Currently serves as city administrator in Ottumwa and has held that position since 2002. He served as an assistant to the city administrator in Maryland Heights, Mo., from 1999 to 2001. He served for 29 years in the armed forces, during which time he served as the “assistant city manager equivalent” at Ft. Clayton, Panama, from 1998 to 1999 and “city manager equivalent” at Ft. Campbell, Ky., from 1996 to 1998.

Education

Received a graduate degree in public policy and strategy from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., in 1992; a master’s degree in international affairs from Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., in 1997; a master’s degree in American literature and culture from Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1977; and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1970.

Other information

He enjoys sail boating, running, reading, golf and tennis.

Q

What challenges have you faced in your city that have prepared you for the Columbia job?

A

“One of the things you have in a job like this is an intense amount of media scrutiny. In a city like Ottumwa, the city government is always on the front page as the news of the day.

“We’ve had a fairly seriously divided city council in the last four years.” Rasmussen likened that experience to being in a four-year graduate course on conflicting political views.

A third preparation is dealing with a large and complex organization in the form of military experience. In Fort Campbell, Ky., Rasmussen worked with a fleet of 800 helicopters, the world’s largest fleet.

Q

What attracts you to Columbia?

A

“There are two areas. The first is what I can do for the city of Columbia” by way of background and experience. “I passionately believe in good government. Personally, I’m interested in the challenges of a bigger city.

“In the back of my mind, I have said to myself: ‘I would like to be a city manager in a city like Columbia.’ So my response was: ‘Yahoo!’”

Q

What is your greatest accomplishment in city government?

A

“An omnibus telecommunications ordinance for cable TV in St. Louis as a model for the telecommunications industry in the city.”

Rasmussen also cited the construction of a new civic center in Ottumwa, a project that was the subject of a close vote. “I continued to work through the stumbling blocks to see it to fruition.”

A third accomplishment he cites is the “growth of the city and economic development, particularly annexation and controlled growth. We’ve just turned the corner as far as economic expansion.”

— Matt Graham and Catherine Bailey


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