Newberg has a new city manager.
The Newberg City Council voted at its Jan. 6 meeting to select Dan Weinheimer for the post after an extensive search that began in July after former city manager Joe Hannan retired from the position. David Clyne has served as interim city manager since Hannan's exit and will continue until Weinheimer takes over in late February.
"We are thrilled Dan and his family have accepted the position in Newberg," said Mayor Rick Rogers. "The council and I believe Dan -- with his experience, professionalism and demeanor -- is the person to lead our community into the future. We cannot be happier and know the residents of Newberg will extend a hearty welcome to our new city leader."
Weinheimer is looking forward to that day.
"I am excited about the chance to come to Newberg and contribute," Weinheimer said in an email interview. "I think the city has a lot going on and I believe my experience can help both with the immediate work and with achieving the long-term vision of residents, the council and of community partners.
"I look forward to working with the staff to focus on customer service at all levels and with the council and community on establishing more specific work priorities. I'm grateful to have the chance to serve Newberg."
Weinheimer has served as deputy county manager for Routt County in Colorado for the past three years. Prior to that he was a policy and project manager in Fort Collins, Colo., a business coordinator and research associate for the USC Center for Economic Development and then served the communities of Torrance, Carlsbad and San Marcos in California.
He was a communications director for U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs and an associate for Capital Partners, a private equity investment firm, during a stint in Washington, D.C. He has a master's degree in public administration from USC and is also a graduate of the Senior Executive Institute at the University of Virginia.
Weinheimer will inherit a city government in turmoil when he assumes the position on Feb. 24. Over the past seven years Newberg has seen nearly a half-dozen permanent and interim city managers and experienced more than its fair share of controversy, including the resignations of two from that post in disgrace, numerous investigations and plethora of lawsuits, court judgements and intrigue that continues to this day.
The city recently settled a racial discrimination lawsuit, is the brunt of a Bureau of Labor of Industries complaint by an active staff member, is one of many defendants in a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by its IT director, has been served with tort notices from two members of the police force and last week placed its human resources director on paid leave and appointed an interim HR director.
"I have kept abreast of what I could related to the ongoing turmoil within the organization," Weinheimer said. "It's really hard to know how, as a new city manager and outsider to the community, I will be able to address the specifics but I have had experience in change management with previous positions. It is concerning that the internal culture appears broken, but the people I met and have interacted with in the organization appear dedicated to the community and to a turnaround within the organization.
"I don't expect it to be easy, but I will start with assuming positive intent among staff, to work on getting to know individuals and to understand root causes of the issues. I also intend to hold people accountable to a high standard of work and workplace behaviors. I would not have accepted the position if I did not think the situation could not be fixed."
Weinheimer was one of nearly three dozen applicants that applied for the position through the agency the city hired to conduct the search, Waldron. The agency then presented 10 applicants to the council, who honed the field to five, one of whom dropped out during the process. The four remaining applicants were interviewed by a succession of committees, who submitted their data to the council before it made a decision last week.
His experience in a variety of roles is what won over the council, Weinheimer posited.
"I don't know what went into the city council's decision, but I interviewed on my experience and that includes 15 years in local government and a track record of finding creative solutions and working collaboratively between federal, state, county and other partners.
"I am someone that likes a challenge and seeks to solve the challenge in front of me. My experience has included many years in both high-performing cultures and in environments needing change. … I have a learner's mindset and am not afraid to ask questions to gain knowledge."
Several tenets of the position, in addition to perks outside the job, prompted Weinheimer to apply.
"I was interested in the position in Newberg because of a lot of the community visioning and long-range planning work that I read," he said. "I see a lot of work going into implementation and execution of those plans.
"I was also interested in Newberg for the non-work reasons – as a place to raise a family and its proximity to a lot of the things that my family enjoys. What I saw in the written materials (and have seen in my visits) is that Newberg is a fit both professionally and personally and that's often a hard thing to match up."
Weinheimer has much to do before he can take over the job in Newberg.
"I will be wrapping up work in Routt County in mid-February as I felt it was important to leave that organization in the best standing I could," he said. "In the meantime, I am beginning my outreach to (Newberg) city staff and reading extensively whatever they send me. I am trying to prepare myself to land in Newberg ready to contribute as best I can.
"I intend to use much of my time when I arrive in listening mode – learning about the organization and the community. I also expect that the annual budget process will start about the same time, so I am reviewing financial materials. Plus there's the dreaded process of moving, which is never fun but I expect to consume a lot of my life between now and arrival to work."
Weinheimer expects to take a measured approach at righting the listing ship that is Newberg city government.
"I expect to immediately be able to address the internal culture through personnel choices, public engagement and a hands-on style," he said. "As I mentioned, I have previously worked in high-performing cultures and those organizations hire the right people, provide them appropriate direction and oversight, train them to do their work and focus on results. I will be looking to bring that kind of system to Newberg.
"In participating in the community event that was part of the recruitment process I was able to speak directly with many concerned residents. The ability to directly hear from residents is a great way to understand what is really important to them and of concern.
"I have an appreciation for public input and including opportunities for public engagement on city processes and decisions can build trust with residents. Newberg residents are rightfully prideful of their community and through dialogue with them I am confident that we can re-establish trust in the city organization."
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