In his most recent job as city manager in Dixon, Illinois — a job he held from 2016-17 — O'Donnell developed a five-year capital improvement program, which helped city council members and staff to identify projected shortfalls in revenue streams, and avoid any future shortfalls.
O'Donnell told the Globe Gazette that the Mason City job would allow him to return to his home state of Iowa, and thinks the city has the chance to be pretty progressive in the coming years.
One aspect to that is the aforementioned River City Renaissance Project.
"When it comes to the downtown project I’ve been through one in Algona on a smaller scale," O'Donnell said. "The way you really navigate through that is you need to work with the businesses to alleviate some of those fears … and keep promoting the downtown so people are interested."
In his last job, he was fired by a split council vote because he wasn't keeping department heads informed about discussions he had with council members. He also did not establish his main residence in Dixon, Sauk Valley Media reported in August 2017.
"As part of my separation agreement, I really can't say a whole lot," he said about what happened in Dixon, later adding: "I certainly could have done some things differently ... but there's a lot of personality issues in that community."