City welcomes new citizen engagement coordinator
Flynn started April 4; several other key positions still open
In the aftermath of a staff exodus that left openings at several key positions including city manager West Linn City Hall has taken an "all hands on deck" approach to keep operations running.
Last week, the threadbare staff saw a much-needed addition as Courtney Flynn took her post as the city's new Citizen Engagement Coordinator.
Flynn takes the place of Lori Hall, who left her position last fall.
The position itself was newly created in early 2014.
"My career goal has always been to support a city's communication and engagement efforts with its citizens and I believe West Linn is the perfect place for this," Flynn wrote in an email. "There seems to be a strong sense of community here, and I am excited to get to know the residents so I can play an active role in further strengthening the communication lines between the city and the citizens."
Flynn is originally from Michigan, where she most recently served as communications coordinator for the Macomb County Board of Commissioners.
"I was employed there for two years and my primary duties were media and public relations, managing the board's social media accounts and writing speeches and other materials to support the commissioners and effectively engage the citizens on the county's legislative policies," Flynn said.
Before that, she was a journalist who served as general assignment reporter, education reporter and associate editor at six different weekly newspapers from 2008 to 2014.
"I am also working on my Masters of Public Administration degree," Flynn said. "If all goes well, I will have my MPA from Wayne State University this summer."
More holes to fill
Even with Flynn on board, the City still has a ways to go before having a full staff once again.
The top priority, of course, is hiring a new full-time city manager to replace Interim City Manager Don Otterman. The City is in the process of finalizing an agreement with one of its five finalists for the job, but has yet to make a formal announcement.
Meanwhile, openings remain at the positions of assistant city manager (previously held by Kirsten Wyatt, who signed a separation agreement in March), community development director (open since Chris Kerr signed a separation agreement in January) and several planning department posts.
"The assistant city manager position is going to remain open until the new city manager starts," Otterman said. "So that person can determine if they want to reorganize or re-fill that position whatever they want to do."
Meanwhile, Planning Manager John Boyd has been named acting community development director, and the City also brought on independent contractor John Morgan to assist on several ongoing projects."John (Morgan) is a contractor to the City, and he's basically doing three different things," Otterman said. "First of all, he's working on the Arch Bridge project and trying to put together a process that's acceptable to the City Council (including) get input on the plan and see what needs to be done to change not only the process, but the plan also."
In its 2016 goals, the City Council agreed to further outline a plan to "reengage (a) contract to hold property owner meetings, community engagement, neighborhood association outreach, and town hall meetings to prepare potential development alternatives and examine zoning options and other potential measures to preserve property values and meet long-term planning goals."
Further, Morgan is also working with the City's economic development committee to "develop a strategy for economic development."
"And the third thing he's working on is the organizational structure of the community development department," Otterman said.
On that note, the City recently conducted interviews with several applicants for planning department positions, and decisions are expected shortly.