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City manager process is critical

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One of the most important decisions made by the mayor and city council is the selection of a city manager. Lake Oswego was fortunate to have an excellent city manager for 15 years in Doug Schmitz. When Doug left in September the council selected an executive search firm and widely solicited input from the community on the ideal attributes and skills they would like to see in our new city manager. We held two public hearings and actively asked for input on our Web page and Hello LO. We heard that our citizens expect us to hire someone who will maintain and improve the outstanding quality of life our citizens have come to expect. We also heard that you wanted a person with vision, with great communication skills, customer service and consensus building skills to work with all aspects of the community including business and neighborhood groups. In addition, we heard about specific issues that should be supported, such as sustainable practices, neighborhood friendly development and a commitment to livability throughout our city.

For the past two months our recruiter has been actively contacting successful city managers throughout the country to encourage their interest and application. The position was also advertised widely to ensure the broadest possible field of candidates. Our recruiter is currently prescreening and interviewing the leaders among the 38 applications received. He will meet with the council later this month to review the leading candidates and at that time the council will select the finalists for interview in January. We hope the community understands the vital necessity for keeping the names of finalists confidential. Most of the finalists will likely be currently employed in highly visible and responsible positions. If their names become public we may lose them as candidates as such disclosure puts them in an awkward position. In addition it could prove damaging to the finalists not ultimately selected if their communities believe they are seeking other opportunities and are not fully committed to their current positions.

Be assured that the council and recruiter will be thorough in their evaluation of finalists and conduct extensive background checks to make sure we get the very best for Lake Oswego. We look forward to reporting back to you in mid to late January with our selection and will make sure the new manager's orientation to the community is inclusive and far-reaching.

Judie Hammerstad is the mayor of Lake Oswego.