Although four finalists vying for the position of Fort Atkinson city manager arrived Friday night at the Fort Atkinson Club to meet a community panel, by Saturday morning only three remained in the running.

Public Administration Associates LLC President Kevin Brunner, who was hired by the city to help with the search and recruitment process, said he was contacted early Saturday morning by Whitewater City Manager Cameron Clapper, who said he wished to withdraw from further consideration for the Fort Atkinson city manager position.

Brunner suggested contacting Clapper for any further information.

Responding to questions from the Daily Union, Fort Atkinson City Council President Mason Becker wrote in an email that he was aware of Clapper’s decision, but had not yet had an opportunity to speak with him. He directed further inquiries to Brunner.

The Daily Union has reached out to Clapper for comment.

Friday night’s event offered each of the four finalists an opportunity to meet individually with an eight-member community panel at the Fort Atkinson Club, 211 S. Water St., where the finalists and the group exchanged information and asked questions.

The process continued early Saturday morning with a special closed session council meeting at which time in-person interviews were scheduled to be conducted.

During Friday’s event, council members and several community members — including plan commission member and former city councilman Davin Lescohier, Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carrie Chisholm and Sue Hartwick, administrator of the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation — asked and answered questions about topics ranging from housing and economic development strategies, perceived role as manager and communication styles, and perceived community assets and challenges, among others.

During her segment, finalist Rebecca Houseman LeMire, who currently is the city administrator, clerk and treasurer in Darien, said she is married, the mother of three young children and a resident of Janesville. She described herself as someone who enjoys outdoor activities including cycling, exercising, and attending community events and farmers markets.

While Whitewater City Manager Cameron Clapper described Whitewater as his home, he said he was a frequent visitor to Fort Atkinson and often thought he would like to live and work in the city

While Whitewater and Fort Atkinson are of similar sizes, Clapper noted that about half of Whitewater’s population is comprised of students who stay in the city between Monday and Thursday, and are gone for three months out of the year. He viewed Fort Atkinson as more of a “full-time community.”

Kronenwetter Village Administrator Richard Downey arrived with his wife, Roberta. He shared what he said was a little known fact about Kronenwetter: by land mass, it is one of the largest municipalities in the state. The community, he said, includes areas that are both residential and rural.

Arriving at the podium, Belleville Village Administrator Brian Wilson said: “I’m sorry if you were expecting the Beach Boys.” He said there were three things to know about him: “I have a sense of humor … I’m good at giving credit where credit’s due … I am a person who can deliver and achieve results.”

Becker said he believed an offer would be made to one of the finalists following Saturday’s executive session meeting. Brunner will continue as facilitator throughout the hiring process, he said.

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