Same job, different city

Lake Oswego City Recorder Robyn Christie will depart for Bend for new opportunities
by: VERN UYETAKE Robyn Christie, Lake Oswego’s city recorder, is heading to Bend where she will be the city recorder starting next year.

After more than a decade working for Lake Oswego, City Recorder Robyn Christie is moving on to work for the city of Bend.

There Christie will have the same job title but in a larger, more diverse community. Still, she said she'll look back fondly on her 'first career job' in Lake Oswego, where she oversees citywide records management, coordinates local elections and serves as clerk of the city council, among other duties.

When she leaves, Mayor Jack Hoffman said, 'She will leave a large crater in the organization.

'She has been indispensable to me as the mayor,' he said. 'She has incredible insight on how to manage the decision-making process of an elected group of volunteers. There is a lot of work a municipality has to take care of, and getting informed decisions by elected offiicals is really an art. It requires understanding the dynamics of a council and the needs of an organization and how those mesh together.'

'What I have respected about Robyn is how she treats everyone equally,' Hoffman added. 'Her loyalty, her obligation, was always to the city and the citizens.'

City Manager Alex McIntyre said Christie has provided 'an incredible backbone' to the city, ensuring council meetings are successful and the record-keeping process is clean.

'She works tirelessly and effortlessly, making the work look easy,' he said. 'It will be hard to fill that institutional gap, that knowledge gap, when she leaves. … And she's just a great person to work with.'

It's unclear when someone will be hired to fill the position, but McIntyre hopes to figure that out by mid-January, when council meetings ramp back up after the holidays. Christie's last day in Lake Oswego is Dec. 15, and she starts work in Bend Jan. 3.

A fourth-generation Newberg native, Christie graduated in 1998 from Oregon State University, where she studied business administration and Spanish.

She was 23 years old when she took a temporary job in Lake Oswego in 1999. At the time, she said, she 'didn't know anything about local government.'

But she learned and quickly climbed the job ladder at city hall. Within months of coming on board on a temporary basis, she was hired fulltime as deputy city recorder. She became the city recorder in 2000 when her predecessor retired.

'It's been a great experience learning about all of the things local government does,' she said while sitting in her office this week. 'As a city recorder, I've had an active role in all of the things the city has done in the past 12 years. Not many other positions have that much interaction with so many people - with the community, with elected officials and with staff of all of the different city departments.'

She has worked with two city managers, three mayors and more than 20 city councilors in Lake Oswego.

A lot has changed during that time.

When Christie arrived, the city was just beginning to post a lot of information online, making materials more accessible to the public and cutting back some paper use. While all council meetings are now broadcast on television, the city used to televise only two meetings each month, and the process of getting them on the air was a lot different back then.

'They'd bring in a truck, and a crew, and cameras on wheels with cables stretched all over the floor,' Christie explained.

With improvements in technology, today's meetings are not only broadcast on TV but also streamed live on the city's website.

Christie obtained a master's degree in public administration from Portland State University in 2008; that same year, she earned her Master Municipal Clerk designation.

The work hasn't been without some challenges.

'It's hard when the public is conflicted,' she said. 'You see there are two sides to each story, and it's tough when you can't make everybody happy.'

But she'll miss a lot of aspects of the job.

'I'll miss the people here for sure: My friends here at work and everybody in the community. It gets to be like a family at city hall, because you spend so much time with everybody.'

Also, she said, 'Local government is personal. We touch people's lives more because we have personal contact. We have the opportunity and responsibility to make that positive.'

Her goals now, she said, 'are definitely to stay in local government and to continue learning, to take on new challenges.'

'I love the city recorder role because of the interactions I get to have, but I do want to manage more projects and continue to develop professionally,' Christie said. 'With Bend being a bigger city - it's 80,000 people compared to our 37,000 - there are more opportunities.'

She said the workplace culture seems similar to what she is used to at Lake Oswego City Hall.

Bend is 'striving for quality and community service like we do,' she said. 'You don't see that in every city. Going in there I felt like it would be a good fit because of that.'

She said her husband, Mat, and children Emma, 8, and Risa, 11, are also excited about the move.

'It's a great opportunity professionally and personally,' she said. 'We're an active family, and so the recreational aspects of Bend really draw us there.

'We're ready to hit the slopes; the kids are already checking out ski team. As a runner, the Deschutes River trail is amazing; I'm very excited about that. And there are the summer activities, too, hiking and mountain biking.'