Mitchell Walbridge, new city administrator of Lanesboro, Minn., is a familiar face in the city. Walbridge attended Lanesboro High School, graduating in 2012. While in college, Walbridge worked as the assistant editor at the Fillmore County Journal. His focus in college was social science with an emphasis in political science.
Although he received his teaching certification, he later decided he’d rather actually put what he’d learn into practice than teach about it. Walbridge’s previous work history includes serving as a Mayo Clinic Education Program coordinator, an administrator of Mayo Clinic Physician Residency Programs and a stint with Home Furniture as a business administrator.
Walbridge bought a home in Lanesboro in 2018. He soon got involved in city government and served on the city council from January 2021 until September 8 of this year.
Making the switch from council member to city administrator has given Walbridge a different perspective; unexpected on his new job was that he needs to “dig into issues” more. He hadn’t realized how much the area city administrators interact with each other; he soon learned that there was a “great statewide network” of city administrators.
According to Walbridge, the council has a great working relationship. He noted that the council is “a very collaborative, analytical group.” There have been no issues on the council with his movement to his new administrative position.
During orientation in his first week on the job, Walbridge was taken on a tour of all the city facilities to see firsthand the day to day operation of the city. Walbridge calls himself fortunate to work with the city staff. “They are truly masters of their craft – they teach me so much!” Walbridge stressed to his staff that he is not tethered to his desk. He wants to be out in the city and see what needs to be done.
The first priority for Walbridge on his new job is looking at the long-term budgeting for capital improvement goals. He wants to be proactive and find funding sources for needed improvements.
One of the priorities includes preliminary discussion on the upcoming Highway 250 work. Although it is now planned for 2027, Walbridge is well aware how much the project will impact the city and wants to be prepared for it.
Walbridge’s goal is to rework the city’s comprehensive plan; this will help establish goals for the city for land use, public utilities and housing.
Changes Walbridge would like to make are infrastructure improvements to the sewer and water utilities as well as looking at future housing development opportunities.
One of the biggest challenges Walbridge is facing right now is how fast time goes. Each week flies by bringing different seasons of work emphasis for him to experience for the first time. One of his memorable experiences as the new city administrator was visiting with Governor Walz during the deer hunting opener about the economic impact of outdoor recreation in Lanesboro.
In his spare time, Mitchell, who is single, enjoys running every other day on the area trails. In his opinion, Lanesboro’s trails are prime for running three seasons out of four. During the winter, he makes good use of Action Fitness as well as doing some cross country skiing. Hiking is another high priority for Walbridge.
Mitchell has family in the area – his parents, sister and her husband and his two nephews and niece all live in nearby Fountain.
When asked specifically what he finds unique about Lanesboro, Walbridge replied that, while Lanesboro has challenges, the amount of support and positive comments have been great. He shared that he feels having the trust of the community is extremely important.
According to Walbridge, the amount of commitment and volunteerism in Lanesboro is impressive. Although all the organizations are separate entities, they have great communication between them. Each group and organization have been so inviting and have welcomed him as he visited with them.
Lanesboro has truly welcomed the new city administrator as he has begun his work with the city! Welcome Mitchell Walbridge, Lanesboro City Administrator!