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Forrester named to League of Oregon Cities Board of Directors


City manager feels he offers some unique characteristics to the board

After serving as Prineville City Manager for the past four years, Steve Forrester will be taking on an additional leadership role in the public sector.

Late last month, he was named as one of four new board members for the League of Oregon Cities (LOC).

Founded in 1925, the LOC is a voluntary association that represents all 242 incorporated Oregon cities. They help city governments serve their citizens by providing legislative services, policy setting, intergovernmental relations, conferences and training, technical assistance, and publications.

Prineville Mayor Betty Roppe along with other city managers urged Forrester to apply for the board position, and was pleased to see him get the nod.

“I am very proud of him,” she said. “He is becoming well-known in the state for good, common-sense judgment, and he is very astute with finances. We are proud of him for that, so I wanted to see him serve on that board if he could.

For Forrester, his selection came as a surprise.

“I was glad that I applied, but I didn’t have expectations about being selected,” he said.

Nevertheless, Forrester feels that he offers some unique characteristics that played a role in landing the board position.

“One of the things that I am very proud of is that with the experiences and the lessons we (city staff and officials) learned recruiting Facebook and Apple, I was invited to share some of the points that I thought helped separate us from our competition,” he said. “I think that was a little bit of a turning point for me where I was able to see the power of sharing those points with other cities.”

Forrester added that his experience in the private sector likely set him apart from his competition. During a 13-year period, he served as the general manager for Crown Pacific at Redmond Remanufacturing, American Pine Products, and Woodgrain.

“I think they were interested in my private business experience and how I have been able to take some of those lessons and incorporate them into some disciplines, some processes, and some financial modeling, and bring that flavor into local government,” he said. “I think I bring a little bit of a non-traditional aspect where I have my boots on both sides — the private sector and the public sector.”

As an LOC board member, Forrester will help the organization work on behalf of Oregon cities regarding such primary issues as land-use planning, traffic-related infrastructure, and budgetary concerns.

“So, it’s basically the big components of managing a local municipality and supporting that with information, lobbying, and processes and procedures that the league can share with all of the different communities in Oregon.”

While Forrester hopes his service will help other communities, he also expects it to pay dividends for Prineville. He noted that one of the primary reasons he applied for the board position was to ensure that rural communities east of the Cascades were well-represented in the LOC. Of the 16 board members, only Forrester and Sandy Toms, the Mayor of Boardman, work for rural communities in Central or Eastern Oregon.

Roppe shared the same interest in promoting those communities, which was one of the primary reasons she urged Forrester to apply for the board.

“We don't want to lose Central Oregon representation on that board,” she said.

Forrester will serve on the LOC board for a three-year term. The board meets quarterly, with the first meeting scheduled for December. During his tenure, Roppe expects Forrester, who has already participated in different local government courses through the LOC, to learn a lot more about city management.

“It’s a feather in our hat,” she said.