And then there were two. From the initial batch of 54 applicants for the soon-to-be-vacant position of Canby city administrator, the city council and its hired recruiter had winnowed the field to five semifinalists by the start of last week.
After a grueling selection process that included multiple interviews before the City Council in closed session, as well as meetings with department heads, a panel of community leaders and a public meet and greet, only two remained.
Both finalists currently serve as administrators of other small cities in Oregon: Monmouth and Harrisburg. Here’s a brief look at the two men and their professional backgrounds.
Brian Latta is in six years into his first stint as city administrator, serving Harrisburg, a community of about 3,600 in Linn County. Though much smaller than Canby, Harrisburg does bear some similarities with our town, including some of its demographics and the focus on a charming, small town feel being key to its identity.
Prior to his current position, Latta was a city planner, including five years as an associate planner for the city of Corvallis. He also worked in planning for Clark County, Wash.
He holds a master’s in geography from Oregon State University and a bachelor’s in the same subject from Brigham Young.
Having served as Monmouth City Manager since 2007, Scott McClure boasts more experience than his co-finalist. He was also city manager for Coos Bay, and previously had been in the same position for several years in Brush, Colo.
He was an analyst for the city of Gladstone from 1989 to 1996.
He holds a Master of Public Administration and a bachelor’s in political science, both from Portland State University.
Monmouth is a city of about 10,000 on the eastern edge of Polk County, which is near and generally considered part of the Salem metro area.
One of the two men will replace current City Administrator Rick Robinson, who is retiring at the end of October.
Canby Assistant City Administrator Amanda Zeiber says the city’s recruiter will now check references and do other background work and report back to the council. The final decision about a job offer will be made in open session.
What is a city administrator, anyway?
Though your average Canbyite may not be overly familiar with the city administrator or what they do, it’s really an extremely important job. Though the mayor and City Council are the elected officials who enact ordinances, make policy decisions and set overall agendas for the city, it’s the city administrator who really runs things day to day.
Functioning much like the CEO of a corporation, the city administrator is charged with bringing the city council’s vision to life, while also doing or overseeing the background work and making recommendations on most of the decisions that come before them.
They also handle the personnel. The city administrator is one of only three jobs that are appointed by and report directly to the council (the other two being city judge and city attorney). The city administrator heads up all hiring, firing, promotions and disciplinary action that may otherwise be required for people who work for the city of Canby.
The city charter actually prohibits councilors from giving orders or direction to employees. It all has to go through the administrator.
This is particularly critical as the city is facing a number of retirements and other vacancies in critical departments in the coming year. The new city administrator will be largely in charge of filling these positions, and could thereby play a large role in helping shape the composition of the city’s police, planning and other vital departments for years to come.
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