TOWN OF LINN — Being from the West Coast, Jim Hurley wanted a change of scenery when he started his career in local government.
Two months ago, Hurley became the first-ever town administrator for the Town of Linn.
Hurley says he was happy to leave behind the California sunshine for the four-season climate of the Midwest. He came for college, and has been a Midwesterner ever since.
“I wanted some seasons,” he said. “I wanted to see more of the country.”
He added: “I just ended up sticking around.”
Hurley, 33, comes to Walworth County from Illinois, where he worked as a city management analyst and also as assistant to a county administrator.
Linn Town Chairman Jim Weiss said the town went through an outside company to help with the administrator recruitment process, and the search came down to six candidates.
After reviewing video questionnaires from all six candidates, town officials narrowed the field to three finalists, who then were brought in for face-to-face interviews.
With the town administrator being a new position, Weiss said, officials do not have a complete definition yet of what Hurley will do.
“He comes in with a wealth of knowledge,” Weiss said. “He has a good background in development to help develop this position and to put some structure around it.”
Hurley’s salary with the town is $74,000 a year.
Hurley received his bachelor’s degree in political science and religious studies at San Diego State University in California in 2009 before getting a master’s degree in public administration in 2014 at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
While pursuing his master’s, Hurley participated in the Public Administration Student Association as well as the International City County Managers Association.
Prior to joining the town of Linn, Hurley spent that past two years working as a community development management analyst for the city of Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago. That position gave him experience with budgets, IT projects, and government efficiency efforts.
Before that, he worked for two years as assistant to the county administrator in McHenry County, Illinois.
Hurley says he learned a lot by working with the 24-member county board in McHenry County.
“It was handling requests, community meetings, as well as coordinating with different departments,” he said.
Hurley said his experience helped prepare him for his new position with the town of Linn, because he has worked with some excellent municipal managers to learn how they operate.
Peter Austin, county administrator in McHenry County, said the town of Linn is getting a talented town administrator.
“The town of Linn is lucky to have a young professional like Jim, who values professional and local government,” Austin said. “Jim is great, as he really wants to roll up his sleeves and get after things.”
Hurley, who began his new job two months ago, said he began by learning the day-to-day operations of the town.
He also is examining the differences between state laws in Illinois and Wisconsin.
“I’ve been learning on how different processes, departments, and how things work here,” he said. “It has been a learning experience on seeing the different facets on how things operate.”
Soon, he will turn his attention to Linn’s town budget and a new spending plan for 2020.
This year has been challenging already, as heavy rain has contributed to drainage projects as well as road and highway infrastructure.
Looking ahead, he said: “We are also looking at 2020, with things that we could do differently.”