New administrator on board

Steve Berkner

Former mayor of Ortonville excited about being a part of moving Tracy forward

Steve Berkner has seen enough of Tracy in a short amount of time to know that what he’s heard about it isn’t enough to keep him from starting a new chapter in his life here.

Berkner, who was part of the City’s second round of interviews for the city administrator position, has verbally accepted the position to replace Kris Ambuehl, who resigned earlier this year to take the same position closer to his hometown.

“It’s like buying a car — you’ve got to kick the tires — or a house — you want to make sure you understand what you’re getting into,” Berkner said in an interview with the Tracy Area Headlight Herald on Friday. “I completely understand there have been tough times here.”

In some respects, Berkner is following a similar path Ambuehl did. Both knew going in that there had been strife and controversy in town before accepting the position. Ambuehl thrived during his one-year stint in Tracy, and Berkner believes he will as well.

“Obviously, there’s a learning curve,” he said. “I would rather have a challenge in front of me, not so much as a distraction, but as a goal of fixing the situation. I’ve spoken with city employees and I’ve seen some very positive communication and some frank discussion on the past. From what I’ve gained from my conversations with everyone is that the city is over the hump.”

Berkner, who will officially begin his duties in mid-January, is filling a position that seemingly always needs to be filled. He will be Tracy’s sixth city administrator in just under a decade. However, he’s not focusing on that statistic. Instead, he wants to focus on the here-and-now and what the future brings.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.