David Hough appointed to top job in Hennepin County

David Hough will shift roles from deputy county administrator to the acting administrator at the end of December. (Submitted photo)
David Hough

David Hough will take on Hennepin County’s top leadership role as the county administrator after the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved to hire him Feb. 21.
Hough, who lives in Edina, has worked as the deputy county administrator in Hennepin County since 2008 and as the interim administrator after Richard Johnson retired in December 2012. He is a former employee of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (1982 to 2008). Hough was the manager of the office’s civil division before he started to work in county administration.
“I worked for 25 years in the county attorney’s office and through those years I had the opportunity and experience to work with all the county departments so I understood their foundation and business and what they do,” Hough said.
It was for that reason he felt that working as a leader in county administration would be a good fit.
Hough also served as the county board’s attorney for 11 years and was a civil deputy for U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, he said.
“It was a logical progression, I had the knowledge and insight and relationships,” Hough said.
The county conducted a nationwide search for administrator candidates and received more than 90 applications. Three candidates were interviewed Feb. 15, including Hough, Stephen Cramer, the president and executive director of Project for Pride in Living Inc., and Steve O’Malley, the county administrator in La Crosse County, Wis.
Cramer worked in Hennepin County as the director of the Department of Housing, Community Works and Transit and held a job as the executive director of Minneapolis Community Development Agency after serving on the Minneapolis City Council from 1984 to 1993.
O’Malley also worked in Minnesota as a deputy city manager and chief financial officer for the city of Burnsville and county administrator and personnel director in Rice County.
The county board will officially appoint Hough to the administrator post and determine his salary at the Tuesday, March 12, meeting.
Hough said he feeling comfortable as county administrator already after having filled Johnson’s shoes since December and working alongside him for many years.
“Richard and I worked closely together and he was a great county administrator, so I learned a great deal from him,” Hough said.
The position also involves working closely with the board to help meet their goals.
“The county board is very pleased to have David Hough in this important position,” said County Board Chair Mike Opat. “He has demonstrated great skill over his long career at the county. David is well known to the community and Hennepin staff, and we’re confident in his ability to lead the county and keep it a strong model of public service,” Opat said.
The county administrator role includes management of departments in health and human services, justice, libraries, public works and government operations. There are 1.2 million residents in Hennepin County, 8,000 employees and an overall budget of nearly $1.8 billion for the administrator to work with and oversee.
Specifically Hough said the administration is focusing on working with county employees who will retire soon to ensure they can pass on their expertise to others. There are also changes in expanding human services out into the county, such as the Northwest Family Service Center in Brooklyn Center. The facility has services from Hennepin County as well as Osseo School District 279 and Community Emergency Assistance Programs.
“It’s a big organization and there are a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities,” Hough said. “I am honored and humbled by this opportunity and privilege to call myself a Hennepin County employee,” he said.

Contact Katy Zillmer at [email protected]