Seventy-five people have applied to be Canby’s next city manager, a significantly higher turnout than last year’s process that yielded a final candidate who ultimately lasted only four months before being dismissed with no cause given.
The recruiting firm in that search, Peckham & McKenney, agreed to conduct a new process at no charge beyond direct expenses. The deadline for applications was June 1.
No doubt, a large factor in that increase was the council’s decision to raise the position’s salary range from $125,000 to $150,000 to between $135,000 and $175,000 — at the recommendation of the firm’s chief operating officer and longtime recruiter, Phil McKenney.
That puts them in a very competitive place among similarly sized cities in the Portland area, including Lake Oswego, which McKenney reported to be in the $149,000-$181,000 range.
The Covid-19 pandemic also likely played a role. McKenney said a number of his firm’s clients have chosen to postpone their own recruitments due to the uncertainties related to the coronavirus crisis, and this may have helped create more of a buyer’s market for those who, like Canby, chose to press forward.
Peckham & McKenney now “has some work to do,” Mayor Brian Hodson told councilors last Wednesday, winnowing that field down to a shortlist of the strongest candidates, which is expected to be presented for consideration the week of the 22nd, with final interviews by the Canby City Council set for July 10.
“Our timeline is still to complete that process on July 10,” Mayor Hodson said. “So, we’ll be having some conversation on how that’s going to look, in terms of meeting and interviewing the final candidates.”
Councilors may conduct the interviews via Zoom video conference, which is how they have been doing regular meetings for several months now, but they will also discuss the possibility of in-person conversations.
Since Canby will require the successful candidate to live in or relocate to the city, it makes sense that out-of-town or even out-of-state finalists should come and see the place, if possible. McKenney will provide recommendations on how to best conduct interviews in the coronavirus era.
In 2019, 54 hopefuls applied to replace retiring Canby City Administrator Rick Robinson, which were ultimately whittled down to only two finalists — both from smaller cities in Oregon.
The city ultimately hired Scott McClure, a longtime administrator for various towns, including Monmouth, which he had managed for over a decade.
McClure, though, lasted barely four months in Canby. The council voted 5-1 to terminate him on Feb. 19, following an executive session. Councilor Traci Hensley was the lone dissenting vote.
Because the dismissal was officially “no cause,” officials have declined to give any reason for their decision. But it was not the first time McClure had been fired from a city manager job. He was also let go by Coos Bay after only two years as city administrator — during which he was reportedly “evaluated” six times by the mayor and council.
The no-cause dismissal also entitled McClure to six months’ salary and health insurance — a total of more than $75,000, which he received in the form of a lump sum payment, pursuant to the terms of his contract with the city.
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