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Lazenby's departure leaves large void

Sandy City Council will meet Monday to begin deciding how to move forward


LAZENBYSandy’s 21-year city manager, Scott Lazenby, has been successfully recruited to serve as city manager for the city of Lake Oswego.

Although the recruitment and interview process was kept quiet, at the request of Lake Oswego officials, the Lake Oswego City Council voted unanimously to approve the hiring at a special meeting June 25. Lazenby’s last day of work in Sandy is July 31, and he begins in Lake Oswego Aug. 5.

Reactions in Sandy to the announcement came with surprise and with mixed feelings.

While people might be happy that Lazenby is pursuing new challenges, they also are sad that the city is losing a talented person.

Mayor Bill King said the city of Sandy is the loser, but he feels the loss personally.

“This is bittersweet,” King said. “For him, it’s a great opportunity, but for Sandy, we’re going to lose a great mind. He has been a mentor and confidant for me (King had no prior public office).”

Former Mayor Linda Malone, who helped select Lazenby in 1992 and served the city with him for 20 years, told the Post this isn’t the first time he has been recruited by Lake Oswego.

“When he notified me he needed a reference and was applying for the job,” Malone said, “I knew he was a shoe-in.

“This is a big loss for Sandy, but we were lucky to have him for as long as we did, and I wish him well.”

Lazenby says the move is a “career advancement,” and looks forward mainly to “a change of pace and new challenges.”

George Hoyt, chairman of the board of Sandy Main Street, said it’s amazing that Lazenby has been Sandy’s city manager for more than two decades. On average, a city manager stays 4-5 years.

“The fact he has been here for 21 years has provided substantial amount of stability in direction of city activities,” Hoyt said. “From that standpoint, we have been blessed.”

Mayor King said local residents might not notice the difference after he leaves, partly because he already has guided the city through so many improvements to its quality of life. But city staff will notice the difference.

“A lot of what he has done is intangible,” King said. “He has helped keep the city in good financial shape and kept us from getting into debt.

“I don’t know if (residents) will see anything in the short term because he does such a good job of setting up (city staff) to do their work. He doesn’t micromanage anyone.”

Malone used some of the same words to describe him.

“He is an empowering city manager,” she said. “He gave credit where it was due and never stole the spotlight. He entrusted (staff) with his confidence to do the right thing. In other words, he didn’t micromanage.”

Lazenby looks forward to working in a city he describes with these words: “strong, capable staff, engaged citizenry and lots of smart people.” But even though he looks forward to moving on, he says he will miss the people of Sandy the most.

Hoyt gave Lazenby a compliment when he said, “I have often felt his shoes were substantially bigger than the ground he was standing on,” meaning he’s capable of managing a larger city.

Speaking for the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, Board Treasurer Jerry Knowlton said he has been very impressed.

“My impression of (Lazenby) is thorough, professional, seasoned, and mature,” Knowlton said. “From a chamber point-of-view, he has been a supporter, cooperative and an ally of business growth.

“I know he will be missed because he has been a key factor in the development of the city of Sandy and its business community.”

Speaking for Sandy Main Street, Hoyt said he sees a lot of continuity and support among councilors for the Main Street program.

City Councilor Carl Exner said he is happy for Lazenby, but not so happy for the city of Sandy because the council now has to find someone like Lazenby.

Under Lazenby’s watch, the city has added many improvements to its residents’ quality of life, and provides more services than most cities in the metro area. In effect and in practice, the city of Sandy has become a model for others to follow.

“There are so many things that he has done for the city,” Exner said, “that it will be tough to replace him.”

That replacement process has not yet been decided, but Exner said he would not accept less than a regional search for a replacement.

“I hear that we have a couple of candidates from (the city of Sandy) who have expressed a desire,” Exner said, “but I would like to look at all of the possible candidates. I want to do the full analysis. The city is in good shape now and I want to keep it that way.”

The city’s “good shape” that Exner talks about includes no bonded debt, no layoffs, no furloughs and no overdue bills.

While that scenario is credited partly to Lazenby, Exner says the department managers also have been doing a good job of fiscal management.

“We have a number of experienced managers,” he said, “who have been here for up to 25 years. So there’s some real experience there, but you still need someone to help them work together.”

Malone also touts Lazenby’s ability to bring people together and help them be productive.

“He has great insight and vision,” she said. “I was pleased with the fact I could come to him with whatever far-fetched idea I thought we should be able to do, and he always was able to find some way to make it happen. Because of him, Sandy is a little city that thinks big.”

Exner admitted that the budget was tight and didn’t have a large surplus to pay a high salary. The city also might find it difficult to pay an executive search firm to find qualified candidates – a process that could cost up to $15,000. If the city would do a national search and choose an out-of-town candidate, funds for moving and transportation expenses also could be difficult to find.

Reaching some of those choices about the process of choosing a replacement city manager is on the agenda of the July 1 Sandy City Council meeting, 7 p.m. in City Hall.

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