Beaverton names Jenny Haruyama as city manager
Beaverton has chosen its first permanent city manager under its new charter, which devolves power from the elected mayor to a professional administrator.
Jenny Haruyama, who has been serving as city manager in Tracy, California — a city of about 89,000 on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area — since spring 2019, was appointed as city manager by the Beaverton City Council at a meeting Tuesday evening, June 1.
Beaverton city voters approved a new charter referred to them by the City Council last May. The charter is a big change for Beaverton, which had been under a "strong mayor" form of government virtually unique in Oregon since the 1980s. It changes the relationship between the mayor and council, adding a sixth councilor and giving the mayor a full vote on the council rather than just a tiebreaker, as it was under the old charter.
Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty, who was elected last year, noted that Haruyama has had experience working in cities and with councils that were also adjusting to changes in their government.
"We really needed a 'change manager' as much as anything else," Beaty said, explaining why the council chose Haruyama for the job.
Beaty pointed to the importance of the city manager under Beaverton's new council-manager system. Haruyama will be the top administrator at City Hall and will supervise Beaverton's department heads, while also taking direction from the City Council and implementing policies.
Haruyama was not immediately available for comment Wednesday morning, but in a statement through a Beaverton city spokesperson, she said she is honored to be chosen as Beaverton's first city manager under the new charter.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know the community and working with the mayor and council to accomplish great things, and ensure Beaverton remains an extraordinary place to live, work and play," Haruyama added in the statement.
Beaty said she was impressed with the caliber of candidates for the job, which is one of several city manager positions that have come open in recent months on Portland's Westside.
Scappoose and Sherwood are also looking to hire new city managers, after seeing their managers decamp for jobs with regional agencies — Scappoose's Michael J. Sykes to the Columbia River People's Utility District, Sherwood's Joe Gall to Clean Water Services — over the past year. Tigard's longtime city manager, Marty Wine, was hired as city manager of Monmouth last year, and Steve Rymer was hired to succeed her in January after a nationwide search.
In Beaverton, the City Council narrowed down its list of candidates to two finalists: Haruyama, who also previously served as city manager of Scotts Valley, California, and Eric Zimmerman, a former Tigard assistant city manager who most recently worked as deputy city manager of Medford, in Southern Oregon.
The council voted Tuesday to hire Haruyama.
"I'm excited to have a permanent city manager and a teammate," Beaty said.
She added that having a "seasoned city manager" in Beaverton, at a time the city is both transitioning to a new form of government and trying to figure out how to spend what Beaty described as a "once-in-a-generational infusion of cash" from federal COVID-19 relief programs, will be a boon to the council and to the city.
Haruyama won't start work at Beaverton City Hall until Aug. 23. Kurt Wilson, who has been serving as interim city manager since January, will stay on for the time being, Beaty said.
By Mark Miller
Editor-in-Chief, Washington and Columbia counties
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