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Fairview fills top spot after 5 months

Joe Gall will leave Beaverton to take administrator position
by: Jonathan House, Joe Gall begins his job as Fairview city administrator Monday, Dec. 18.

FAIRVIEW - After unanimously approving his contract, members of the City Council took time out of their meeting last week to greet Joe Gall, the city's new administrator.

Gall will take over for Roger Vonderharr, the city's former mayor who has been the acting administrator since the beginning of November. Former City Administrator Jan Wellman was placed on paid administrative leave and resigned his position July 31.

Gall is scheduled to start work in Fairview on Monday, Dec. 18, but Vonderharr will remain at the city until the end of December to help ease his transition.

Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby said he likes Gall's energy and focus.

'I really see that he has the vision of what Fairview is and what it can become,' Weatherby said. 'I just see real potential and a real asset for Fairview.'

Gall, who formerly worked in the mayor's office in Beaverton, was one of seven candidates the council interviewed for the position.

After completing their interviews 'the council … really decided that he was the one,' Weatherby said, adding that of the 54 candidates for the position, Gall emerged as the clear choice.

One of the things that really stood out for Weatherby was Gall's commitment to working with the rest of the staff to set goals that will help the city move forward.

'He's really dynamic, and he has experience in planning, which is something we need,' Weatherby said.

Vonderharr agrees.

'We have some commercial and industrial areas that we are looking to get good development in, and we think Joe's the guy to help us,' Vonderharr said. 'Being a small city, we can grow together.'

Gall served as the senior program manager for the community programs section of the Beaverton mayor's office for a little more than five years.

In Beaverton, he led a 15-member team providing community services through the city's neighborhood and public involvement programs, code services, dispute resolution center, solid waste and recycling program, community gardens and graphic services.

He's also served as the project manager for several special projects, including the creation of a $15 million community health clinic and housing project set to break ground next year in downtown Beaverton.

'I've learned a lot in my five-plus years here and think I will be a better city manager because of my time with the city of Beaverton,' Gall said.

He will be missed in Beaverton, city officials said.

'Joe served us really well,' said Mayor Rob Drake. 'I think he will make an excellent city administrator. He's ready for this job.'

Gall set his sights on one day becoming a city manager several years ago while working as a city planner in Cincinnati, Ohio, then as a town planning adviser with the U.S. Peace Corps in Lamu Island, Kenya, and next with the town of Marlborough, Conn.

He holds a bachelor's degree in urban planning from the University of Cincinnati and a master's in business administration from Boston University.

He served for four years with Clark County's Department of Community Development in Southwest Washington before accepting his position in Beaverton.

'I view my experience with both Clark County and Beaverton as stepping stones to this opportunity in Fairview,' Gall said. 'I like working in local government. It's really where you can make a difference and provide services that are … important to citizens.

Gall said he's excited about the opportunities and challenges his new position will offer.

'I'm looking forward to learning more about the Fairview community and seeing what programs from Beaverton might fit there as well,' Gall said. 'There's a great opportunity coming in 2008 when Fairview will celebrate its centennial, and I'm … excited to find out what people there are interested in doing to celebrate.'

He's also looking forward to working with Fairview's team to tackle issues on the horizon including redevelopment challenges.

Gall said he and his wife, Melissa, and 2-year-old son, Ryan, plan to move to Fairview in the next six to eight months.

In other city news, Vonderharr recently hired John Gessner, the city's acting community development director, to fill the position full time.

Gessner, who previously served as the city's senior planner, took over as the acting development director in September after Tamara DeRidder resigned after being placed on paid administrative leave.

Weatherby said he is happy with the decision.

'I was really, really pleased to see him promoted,' Weatherby said, adding that he believes Gessner's administrative abilities will benefit the city. 'He really fits our style.'