Former administrator fired in December

As the Scappoose City Council searches for a person to replace outgoing interim City Manager Don Otterman, Vernonia is looking to hire a permanent city administrator.

The city is accepting application materials through June 5. Vernonia City Recorder Joann Glass said it is hoped the job will draw a range of suitable applicants.

Glass called the coincidental timing of Scappoose and Vernonia’s respective searches for their top city jobs “unfortunate,” before backtracking.

“You can’t pick and choose when you’re trying to advertise and when you’re not,” said Glass. “So whether you’re in competition or not, that wasn’t a choice.”

Vernonia’s Voice reported that the Vernonia City Council fired then-City Administrator Bill Haack without giving a reason for its decision on Dec. 10. Haack had been in his position since September 2011, and he also acted as administrator pro tem for about a year beginning in June 2010 — an interim tenure that was also marked by tensions with the council.

When asked about the former administrator’s departure from the city government, Glass declined to comment.

“I’m not going to get into details as to why the position is open,” Glass said.

The Vernonia city website links to a four-page document outlining the responsibilities of the city administrator and laying out a description of “the ideal candidate” for the job.

Among the qualities the document says are “preferred” by the City Council include prior experience in Oregon and residency in Vernonia, while community activity involvement is a “must.” It also emphasizes that the city administrator must have good relations with the council.

“The City Administrator must be open and honest with the Mayor and Council and be able to present all sides of an issue affecting the city,” it reads in part. “She or he must be able to enthusiastically carry out the intentions and directions of the City Council.”

Right now, Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell is serving as administrator pro tem.

Glass indicated that how soon Vernonia fills the position on a permanent basis depends on the quality of applicants for the job.

“We should hopefully have someone by August,” said Glass.

Editor’s note: After speaking with the Spotlight on Tuesday, May 13, about Vernonia’s hiring process, Joann Glass sent an email to the Spotlight’s reporter Wednesday attempting to prevent the interview from being published. In keeping with journalistic standards, the Spotlight considers any conversation not explicitly excluded from the record by consent of its reporter to be fair game for publication.

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