Bob Davis retires as Washington County administrator
Washington County commissioners and staff said farewell to Bob Davis, who has worked for the county for 36 years, 33 of them in the administrative office and the past 13 years as the county's top executive.
Davis retires Dec. 31. He had announcement his retirement in May after the Oregon Legislature approved changes in the state public-pension system, but continued to work under a contract that is ending.
Davis didn't say much at the year's final business meeting of county commissioners on Dec. 17.
Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, the city's elected chief executive for 11 years, said in a separate interview that reticence was in keeping with Davis's low-key approach.
Davis came to county government in 1983, shortly before Roy Rogers was elected a commissioner in 1984.
"I remember you when you were young — because I was, too," Rogers said amid laughter.
Rogers invited Davis to share a cubicle at their office. The Public Services Building, which houses the commissioners and the administrative office, was still a few years in the future.
"We said he was the wizard behind the screen," said Rogers, who is seeking re-election in 2020.
"This organization has grown so fast and become so complex. You have navigated those waters."
Interim Assistant County Administrator Sia Lindstrom, who has the position Davis occupied for 20 years before he succeeded Charles Cameron as administrator in 2006, read a list of statistics to reinforce that point.
When Davis joined the county in 1983, she said, the population was 262,000; now it has reached 619,000. The county budget was $61.5 million then; today, $1.4 billion. Its workforce was just under 1,000 then; today, almost 2,200.
Before commissioners named him county administrator — effectively the top executive in the county's board-manager form of government — Davis oversaw facilities, finances, human resources, information technology and risk management in the administrative office.
"One of the things we most appreciate about Bob is his balanced, calm approach, how deeply he values collaboration and teamwork, and his deep love of this community over the years," Lindstrom said.
She also said Davis had a hand in construction or reconstruction of most county buildings, including the recently completed strengthening of the Public Services Building and Law Enforcement Center to withstand a severe earthquake.
Commissioner Dick Schouten, first elected in 2000, is the other board veteran who has seen Davis in action.
"You are so free of drama and such a steady hand. I guess I thought you'd be here forever," Schouten said. "You do things well and you do them quietly and incredibly competently. You are a steady rock."
Davis's tenure in the county administrative office, including his years with Cameron, cover six board chairs: Wes Myllenbeck, Bonnie Hays, Linda Peters, Tom Brian, Andy Duyck, and Kathryn Harrington, who was elected last year.
"It is an exemplary organization with a vast array of services in the Washington County portfolio. You have created it and left a legacy for your successor to take further," Harrington said.
"He has poured his heart and soul into Washington County."
When Davis interjected a comment about his white hair — one of his few comments that night — Harrington responded: "As you can see, humor as well, in doing all that work."
Harrington noted that it was a generational change: Don Bohn, who also came to the county in the early 1980s, retired as assistant administrator on June 30.
The two other commissioners elected in 2018, Pam Treece and Jerry Willey, also dealt with Davis in previous positions.
"I want to thank you the most for the legacy you leave," said Treece, who has been executive director of the Westside Economic Alliance since 2012 and retains that job. "Kathryn is right: We have yet to stand on your shoulders."
Willey was mayor of Hillsboro, the county seat, from 2009 to 2017.
"He has been described correctly as a very quiet leader, a strong hand behind the scenes, and certainly a visionary leader for this county," Willey said.
Davis will be succeeded temporarily starting Jan. 6 by Stephen Rhodes, a former Tualatin and Clackamas County administrator, while a search proceeds for a permanent administrator.
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