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Are the days numbered for city manager?

Lazenby among finalists for Metro's top position
by: contributed photo Sandy City Manager Scott Lazenby

Sandy City Manager Scott Lazenby has been chosen as one of four finalists for chief operating officer for Metro regional government. He was selected from more than 50 applicants, who had received invitations to apply.

The Metro position was vacated at the end of March when the former Metro chief, Michael Jordan, was hired by Gov. John Kitzhaber as Oregon's first chief operating officer.

Three of the finalists, including Lazenby, are managers of small cities (Albany, Ashland and Sandy), and the other finalist is director of Metro's sustainability center.

Lazenby has been Sandy's city manager for 19 years, and says he hasn't applied for any other position.

Prior to working at Sandy, Lazenby was management and budget director with the city of Glendale, Ariz., which now is larger than Metro - including a $700 million budget and 2,000 employees. Therefore, Lazenby says he is no stranger to big government.

'I was definitely very comfortable working in a large organization like that,' he said.

Former Mayor Linda Malone has served the city as city councilor and mayor for all of the years Lazenby has been city manager, with the exception of this year.

During those years, the city found ways, without taking on huge debt, to form its own bus system, develop SandyNet, revitalize the downtown with facade improvements, build a city plaza, develop a system of neighborhood parks, add pedestrian signals and wide sidewalks, build a new police station and rebuild a library.

Malone said she has read the biographies of the four finalists, and, for most criteria, believes Lazenby is the most qualified.

'But (his success in the selection process) depends on what kind of a fit (Metro Council President) Tom Hughes is looking for and how many Metro councilors will agree with him.'

Lazenby is a good listener, Malone said, and he gave the Sandy City Council its choices, but didn't try to influence outcomes with his opinion.

'I know he had an opinion,' she said, 'and he would give it to you if you asked. But he let the elected officials choose. And you always knew he had your back. You always knew that whatever decision you made he would support it.'

Lazenby said he was looking forward to the interview process, and knew Metro would be in good hands no matter who is chosen.

Interviews were scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 9, but a decision isn't expected until later in August.

Malone is pulling for Lazenby, because if he is selected it would give Sandy a voice at Metro, which sometimes has an effect on the Sandy area.

'For the city of Sandy, I feel bad (if Lazenby is selected),' she said, 'because his talents would be greatly missed. But for his personal growth and satisfaction, I hope he gets the position.'