Eagan's First and Only City Administrator Stepping Down After 36 Years
City Administrator Tom Hedges, one of the city's "founding fathers", will leave a lasting legacy, according to Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire.
After plenty of jokes and a few emotional moments, longtime Eagan City Administrator Tom Hedges—widely considered one of the city's most influential leaders—announced at Wednesday's Eagan City Council meeting that he plans to retire in early 2013.
Hedges, Eagan's first and only city administrator, was hired in 1976 at the age of 27 and has served for 36 years as the city's highest appointed official. Before coming to Eagan, he was employed as the city administrator of St. Peter.
After accepting Hedges' retirement notice, the Eagan City Council approved a $12,900-plus-expenses contract with recruitment firm Brimeyer Fursman to assist in the search for a new city administrator. Hedges told council members at the meeting that he plans to continue in his role as adminstrator until Feb. 1, 2013.
A handful of elected officials expressed sadness at Hedges' announcement, including Eagan City Councilors Paul Bakken and Cyndee Fields, who jokingly discussed voting to reject Hedges' retirement letter and keep him working as a city employee.
“I’m not allowing this," Fields joked. “I’m sorry Tom, I told you I was going to hang onto your ankles."
"I think every member at this dias has wondered and worried about this day," Eagan Mayor Mike Maguire said during the meeting. "Now matter how much I anticipated it, I still don't know if I can find the words. I think you, more than any individual, have made Eagan what it is."
Hedges, 63, said he is looking forward to having more flexibility in life, and plans to travel following his retirement as city administrator. He may continue to work limited hours as a consultant, he said.
The city administrator is one in a long list of top Eagan officials who have recently retired or announced their intent to retire. Eagan's longtime public works director, Tom Colbert, retired earlier this year, and Eagan Director of Administrative Services Gene VanOverbeke is expected to retire in December. A number of veteran police officers have also turned in their badges this year.
Earlier this year, in the city's annual "State of the City" address, Maguire identified the turnover of aging city staff as one of Eagan's challenges in the near future.
"To say we are in a time of change is a serious understatement," Maguire said in the March address. "In the same way that the public has given Tom Hedges the trust to do what's best for Eagan, we must be willing to give that faith and trust in what's sure to a be a new generation of leaders."
Hedges, who received an applause following his announcement on Wednesday, thanked past and present elected officials, the community and his wife, Debbie.
"I'm grateful for those who gave me my first chance, and I've always tried to remember that," Hedges wrote in a prepared statement. "Yes, Eagan has had a lot of tremendous development and now redevelopment during my time here. But what I've really enjoyed is fosting future leaders, growing the talents and skills of this organization and—as Walt Disney said—'pointing them towards a certain goal.'"