Yamashita to retire as city manager
After multiple years of service in the U.S. Air Force, police force and most recently as city manager of Sandy, Kim Yamashita is retiring.
Yamashita officially announced at the July 16 Sandy City Council meeting her intention to step down within the next six months.
Yamashita served as police chief in Sandy from 2010 until she took on the position of the city's lead administrator in January 2017.
She told The Post her reasons for leaving are "purely financial."
"My heart is not in it, but my head is," she explained.
Yamashita and her husband had originally planned to retire and move to Idaho in the next three to four years, but because of the status of the housing market, they decided to hasten their moving date.
Yamashita has recommended Sandy Transit Director Andi Howell act as interim city manager while the council seeks her replacement.
"I would encourage you to consider overlap with (your new) person," Yamashita told the council. "And (my husband and I) will try to be in the area as long as possible. Whatever you guys need, I'm available."
Yamashita marks the third city manager for Sandy in the eight years Mayor Bill King has been in office.
"I didn't think I'd outlast the first one," King joked. King said he hopes to find a new city manager "who's going to be very passionate about the community," and make sure they have a succession plan in place early on in their career similar to how former city manager Scott Lazenby primed Seth Atkinson for the position.
"Every city manager I've worked with has been very passionate," King noted.
In her brief-but-busy time as city manager, Yamashita has overseen projects such as the city rebranding initiative, the preliminary planning of the Pleasant Street Master Plan and Sandy Community Campus and the creation of an arts commission and youth council, to name a few.
But there remains a lot of work left to do and a lot forthcoming within the next few years.
"There's going to be a huge project for someone to inherit," King said, referring to the creation of the new wastewater treatment facility that's now in the planning stages.
He also mentioned the completion of the Sandy Community Campus and a proposed water treatment facility to filter cryptosporidium from Bull Run water provided by the Portland Water Bureau.
Though King said he is "confident in most all decisions (Yamashita) makes, I'm not sure (Howell) is ready to embrace that responsibility."
"I'm not saying Andi is not a great candidate, but much of council is fairly new and I don't know how confident they'd be in her," King explained.
"Frankly, I said yes because a smooth transition is important and as an employee of the city — I am happy to step up when asked," Howell said. "I am also in the fortunate position of having great staff. Although we already hustle to get it all done in the Transit Department, I know they have the ability to step up with me. As for whether I'll apply for the position, it's exciting to think about, but I have a vision for the Transit Department, and a love for transit in general, that would make it really difficult for me to step away permanently."
Though the past two terms the city has hired from within to fill the position and not gone out for a search, King said they very well might this time.
"Even in hindsight I think we made the right decision (with Yamashita)," King noted. "We needed a strong city manager that was as meticulous as she is."
King acknowledged that not everyone in Sandy was happy the city didn't entertain a search for other candidates before hiring Yamashita, but King described her run as city manager as "successful."
"She's instituted changes that were needed for a long time," King said. "If I had to sum her up in one word — fearless. She's not afraid to take on anything."