Clark ready to work for the city of Austin

Published 8:01 am Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Austin City Council recently voted to hire Worthington city administrator Craig Clark. Herald file photo

The Austin City Council recently voted to hire Worthington city administrator Craig Clark. Herald file photo

Craig Clark is ready for a new challenge.

Austin’s incoming city administrator is excited for the growth opportunities Austin has and hopes to help the city reach those goals. The 44-year-old Clark has spent several years learning the ins and outs of city public policy and is prepared to help Austin grow.

“Going into public policy, being able to help make the community better, being able to do that is pretty rewarding,” he said.

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Growing up, Clark didn’t think he would be interested in public policy, or even in politics. That changed when he went to college and double-majored in political science and history. After he received his bachelor’s degree in 1993, he worked for the state Capitol as an intern before former 1st Congressional District Rep. Gil Gutknect, R-Minnesota, invited Clark to work in Washington, D.C.

Clark spent four years in D.C. working under Gutknecht and other Congressmen before he returned to Minnesota with his wife, Anita.

“When you work at the legislature, you’re subject to appointment, and we wanted more stability,” he said.

Once there, Clark spent several more years at the state House of Representatives, working in the Ag Finance committee, while he earned a master’s degree in public policy from Hamline University. He graduated in 2004.

Only a year later, Clark found himself in Clayton, Wisconsin, as the town administrator. The town, which had a little less than 4,000 residents in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was considered one of the fastest-growing communities in the state.

Clark came to Worthington, Minnesota, in 2008. The city may be half as large as Austin — it had 12,764 residents in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — but Worthington shares similar issues. The town is growing, has a large Latino population and also features a large food manufacturing business.

For Clark, that meant an opportunity to help residents.

“Where local government does best is helping individuals do what they can’t do on their own,” he said.

Yet Clark became excited about Austin’s potential once he heard the city was looking for a new city administrator. Clark said he was drawn by the possibilities of Vision 2020, and he admired the way the city has used grants and the Local Option Sales Tax to improve flood mitigation in the area since 2007.

Clark is set to start in Austin on Dec. 8, but he said he’s looking forward to listening to residents’ concerns and get his feet on the ground over the next few months as he becomes acclimated to the area.

“I’m just really excited and looking forward to joining you all over in Austin and working hard,” he said.