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City will hold a public 'meet-and-greet' with the finalists on Dec. 15 at the Chehalem Cultural Center

GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Finalists for Newberg's next city manager will appear in a meet-and-greet at the Chehalem Cultural Center on Dec. 15.

The Newberg City Council, a group whose complexion has changed almost completely in the past 12 months, has a monumental task on its hands: choosing a new administrator who will lead during a time of extraordinary upheaval in city government.

But the council doesn't have to go it alone, at least not completely. It's looking to Newberg's citizenry for input on who the next city manager should be.

That opportunity comes in mid-December when the city holds a meet and greet with what is expected to be four or five finalists for the city manager position. At the event – slated from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Chehalem Cultural Center – the public is "invited to meet, engage and review candidates," the city said in a press release, then leave comments for the council to consider during its deliberations.

The process to name a new city manager came about in late June when Joe Hannan announced he would leave the post. The council soon after named a subcommittee to begin a search for an interim city manager while a private recruitment firm began the search for a permanent replacement. The council named former Independence city manager David Clyne to the interim post in late July and he has been leading city government since.

At about the same time, the council issued requests for qualifications from vendors that could assist the city in recruiting a city manager. The field of vendors was narrowed down to 11 by late July and then to three or four interviewed by the council. They chose Portland-based Waldron & Associates' Heather Gantz in August to lead the search. Clyne

The company developed a job profile for the position, Clyne said, adding that it was a four-page glossy publication that was emailed to various job websites and prospective candidates, as well as professional organizations and other venues.

"There are a number of different ways the public management community speaks to each other in terms of availability and the like and what's going on," Clyne said.

The recruiter received 37 applicants by the Nov. 24 deadline.

"Mostly they come from the western United States," Clyne added. "I'm going to guess about half from Oregon."

Waldron narrowed the 37 applicants down to about a dozen, then forwarded the field to the council who went through the applications and winnowed that field further at its meeting on Monday, Clyne said.

"The goal is to get it down to four or five, so obviously they (had) their work cut out for them," he said in a Nov. 27 interview.

The finalists will be first revealed to the public at the Dec. 15 open house at the cultural center. Clyne said his hopes are that many members of the public will attend and lend their opinions on the field.

"This is the opportunity for folks in the community that are concerned about what the next city manager is going to be about to ask any questions they wish of the candidates," he said. "The goal is just to meet them, see if they like them, if they feel that they will pay attention to what is important to members of the community. That could be anything."

The finalists will appear before three panels the day following the open house. Included is a stakeholder panel, appointed by the mayor, that "targets folks in the community that have a lot of business dealings … with the city that have been identified as stakeholders," Clyne said. A second panel will be made up staff members, including the city's leadership team and union representatives. The third panel is comprised of the council.

The two non-council panels will be asked to record their impressions of the finalists to the council. The council will then take that information and meld it with the input given at the open house and begin deliberating on Dec. 16 in executive session.

"With any kind of luck they will reach a consensus on a lead candidate and then they will ask the recruiter or myself to go and try to negotiate a contract and a start date," Clyne said.

The best case scenario, Clyne continued, is that the city would get a quick yes from a finalist, he or she would give notice to their employer if they are currently working, and then take over the reins of the job from Clyne in late January or early February.

"I am happy with the outcome," Clyne said. "I think we have a highly-qualified pool. You only need one and I think when they get down to it, it's going to be a hard choice and I think there's a number of people in that pool that can do a very fine job for the city of Newberg."

Whoever is chosen to assume the position of city manager in Newberg will inherit an administration under siege from within and from without. The city recently lost a jury trial in a lawsuit filed by an African-American man claiming he was racially discriminated against when he was applying for a job with the city. Several other lawsuits by employees within city government – including the IT director, police chief and a police captain – are expected soon and the human resources director has claimed harassment by city employees as well. Social media platforms have been running at a fevered pitch, with people posting all manner of conspiracy theories, attacks against city employees and support of some departments and disdain for others.

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