Harrenstein resigns from new job with Altoona, Iowa

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Jul. 25—Former North Mankato City Administrator John Harrenstein resigned as administrator for Altoona, Iowa, fewer than five months after taking the job.

Harrenstein's resignation was accepted unanimously by the City Council on July 18. The council also approved a severance agreement with Harrenstein.

No details were released by the city about the reason for the resignation or details of the severance package.

In an email to The Free Press, Harrenstein said the new job was not a good fit.

"As with any job, fit in a new position is critical to success. After spending some time in the position, it became clear that Altoona wasn't the fit that was needed for me to maximize my talents and not a fit for the city to maximize the position. I am looking forward to additional opportunities in the near future."

Harrenstein, North Mankato administrator for nine years, was often criticized by some residents, employees who left under his tenure, and by at least one council member.

Harrenstein particularly came under fire when he moved to have the city take over Fun Days from the group that long ran it. A new group was set up this year to operate Fun Days, which took place earlier this month.

He was also criticized for pushing to change the way public input is taken at council meeting. Rather than having an open forum during the meetings as was the tradition, the forums were moved to after the official meetings adjourned. The council then took public input, but Harrenstein and city department heads were not in attendance.

Some residents complained that while the post-meeting public comment periods were videotaped, there was no official minutes taken of what was discussed.