West Linn announces Eileen Stein as new city manager
Stein set to arrive in June after three years as city manager in Mt. Angel
At long last, West Linn has a new city manager.
The City announced in a press release Thursday that it has chosen Eileen Stein as its next city manager.
Stein comes to West Linn from Mt. Angel, Oregon, where she served as city manager for the past three years. Prior to Mt. Angel, she served as city manager in the City of Sisters for 11 years.
Stein also currently serves on the League of Oregon Cities Board of Directors.
"I'm just really appreciative of the confidence the West Linn City Council put in me," Stein said in an interview with The Tidings. "I'm really looking forward to this opportunity. It will be a fun and exciting challenge."
Her excitement was shared by the City Council, which was unanimous in its support of hiring Stein.
"I'm elated," Mayor Russ Axelrod said in an interview with The Tidings. "I think she brings a kind of philosophy of community engagement that will be important for us. She's truly team-oriented, engaging, a good listener I think she'll be a good fit for the community."
Axelrod added that Stein's extensive experience in Oregon is also a plus.
"She's already connected regionally, in terms of knowing a lot of community leaders, both legislative and other city officials city managers in other cities, other elected officials, folks at Metro," Axelrod said. "All the agencies we deal with, she has experience working with."
"There's so many projects the City has on its plate that are intergovernmental in nature," Stein said. "My Oregon experience is going to really help there."
City Councilor Thomas Frank, meanwhile, has worked with Stein for the past year at the Oregon League of Cities, and believes her skillset fits West Linn well.
"I was always impressed with her attentiveness to detail and her grasp on the issues, so I was quite pleased when I learned she was an applicant," Frank said. "I think she's going to be a good fit for the community. Her personality and her problem-solving skills I think are going to be an asset for her."
Following the resignation of former City Manager Chris Jordan in August 2015, West Linn hired Prothman and Associates to conduct what it termed a "comprehensive search" for a new city manager. In all, the city received 32 applications and eventually selected five candidates for further interviews and an opportunity to meet with community members.
Stein, for her part, said West Linn immediately stuck out as a "great community" when she first began the application process.
"People have pride in the community, and they want to preserve the quality of life they have there," Stein said. "That interests me, the engagement there, and the projects that needed to be accomplished were a good fit with my background."
The interviews, which took place April 1 at City Hall, included three panels made up of residents, advisory board members, regional city/county administrators and city staff, and a separate panel of city councilors as well as a reception for the public to meet the applicants.
It was shortly after that point that Stein was identified as the City's top candidate, and contract negotiations began.
Stein holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California at Irvine and has more than 25 years of local government experience in Oregon.
"She brings over two decades of experience working in Oregon local government," City Council President Jenni Tan said. "I believe that she is a great asset to West Linn."
Steins first day on the job will be June 1, according to Interim City Manager Don Otterman. In the meantime, Axelrod hopes to meet with Stein and discuss the bevy of tasks awaiting her when she arrives. "I want to talk to her about the process of assimilation, and just kind of feeling out how to best get her up to speed and running," Axelrod said. "We have a lot of work to do. We've been waiting and waiting for it."
Stein also plans to meet with each of the five City Councilors before starting the job. From there, her focus will be on getting out and meeting community members.
"My first priority will be to meet with people in the community that follow West Linn politics and are very engaged," she said. "I sensed there was some concern over how city hall was perceived mistrust. I want to understand that as much as I can. Is that just a function of how past projects were carried out by the former city manager, or is there something deeper I need to understand."
By that same token, Stein will also look inward at city hall itself.
"I'll be doing the same thing internally with the organization," Stein said, "understanding what's going on and working on reestablishing trust between the community and the organization."