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Permanent city manager recruitment rolls ahead

Hiring process to take four to six months


by: VERN UYETAKE - Interim City Manager Tom Coffee plans to serve in the top administrative position at city hall while the city recruits a long-term chief executive. He said he doesnt plan to apply for the permanent post.Just before a controversial switch of interim city managers last week, the city council discussed its plans for hiring a permanent replacement for Alex McIntyre, who left the job a year ago to accept a position in California.

The council on Jan. 15 gave Human Resources Director Megan Phelan the go-ahead to begin accepting proposals from executive search firms interested in leading the city manager recruitment effort.

In all, the recruiting process is expected to take four to six months, Phelan said.

Proposals will come from firms in both the private and public sectors within the next three or four weeks. Then, a subcommittee of council members chosen by Mayor Kent Studebaker will review the proposals and possibly interview top contenders before deciding on a recruiter.

The next step will likely entail heavy community involvement.

During the profile development phase, officials plan to hold an open meeting with the public to learn what sorts of characteristics and experience citizens value in a city manager. Then, the chosen recruiter and members of the council could also meet with specific “stakeholders” to hear their ideas, Phelan said.

“Personal traits like honesty, work ethic, integrity and good oral communication skills will be important,” Phelan said. A general job description will cover basics such as day-to-day tasks and duties.

But there are additional questions the council might consider when developing a city manager position profile, she said, including: What importance will be placed on how the city manager will lead and motivate staff? How do you want the city manager to react to emergency situations or crises? What responsi bilities should the city manager absorb on her or his own? Which duties should the manager be able to delegate to others? How accessible should the city manager be to the community?

Some things that set apart managers, she said, are “approach to management and approach to leadership.”

Councilor Donna Jordan noted an additional consideration.

“I would think the council would also want to think about some of the things like whether you want the city manager to live in the city of Lake Oswego or not,” Jordan said. “Those are some of the things that are not generally thought about in the outset but may become important.”

At the same meeting, the council voted to hire Tom Coffee as the new interim city manager, replacing David Donaldson, who returned to his previous job as assistant city manager.

Donaldson had been appointed city manager on a short-term basis last year. With the November election in sight, the idea then was to hire someone to fill McIntyre’s position while a new mayor and councilors transitioned into their roles, conducted a formal recruitment effort and eventually hired a permanent administrator who fit their particular goals and dynamics.




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