The city chose Alliant Energy’s Jill Weiss to be the next director of Stoughton Utilities.
She succeeds Robert Kardasz, who had served in the post for nearly 40 years before retiring last year.
Weiss was the unanimous choice of the selection committees from a pool of more than 30 candidates, the city’s human resources director, AJ Gillingham, told the Hub.
March 4 is her tentative start date.
Weiss is a certified professional engineer and was the utility manager for the City of Jefferson before her current stint as a distribution system operations supervisor at Alliant Energy. She has 14 years of “direct utility oversight experience,” according to her application.
Though she has “very, very big shoes” to fill, Gillingham said, Weiss is “a perfect fit” for the job.
“When she walks into a room, she really commands attention,” Gillingham said. “What (Stoughton) Utilities were looking for was strong leadership and management. The fact they could check the box with the engineering degree was a huge plus.”
Weiss is a graduate of Fort Atkinson High School and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received a bachelor of science degree in agricultural engineering/biological systems engineering in 1999 with an emphasis in environmental and natural resource engineering.
The same month she graduated from college, she went to work for the Polk County Land and Water Resource Department before stints with two different consulting firms. In 2009, she became the City of Jefferson’s public works director and city engineer and eventually its utility director.
“I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to gain experience both in the public and private sectors,” Weiss told the Hub in an email. “My interest in the position is a testament to the quality of the community and its leadership and staffing,” citing the leadership of Kardasz, assistant director Brian Hoops and finance director Jamin Friedl.
Stoughton Utilities oversees water, wastewater and electricity in the city and surrounding areas, and Gillingham said Weiss’ experience in water and electricity is “very in-depth.” Her weakness, if she has one, would be in wastewater, Gillingham said.
While the second selection committee was deliberating the choice, Brian Erickson, the city’s wastewater system supervisor, took Weiss on a tour of the facility and afterward endorsed her to the committee, Gillingham said, saying she was “absolutely teachable.”
Two of the five finalists chose not to be interviewed, Gillingham said, including one from California, and Adrian Stocks, the wastewater field operations director with the Department of Natural Resources.
In addition to Weiss, the city interviewed Cottage Grove public works and utilities director John Larson and DNR environmental engineer Charles Cameron.
The Common Council approved Weiss’ hire during its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 8. She will have to satisfy the rest of the position’s contingencies, Gillingham said, like passing a background test, physical and drug test.
Weiss lives in Fort Atkinson, according to her application, and works in Janesville. She said relocating to the city would not be necessary, but she might consider moving to be within the Stoughton Area School District in the future.
The position’s salary is $127,150.40, with a $3,000 raise coming Jan. 1, 2020. This would make Weiss the city’s highest-paid employee.