Longtime city administrator to retire; city looks at possible succession by current police chief

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - A number of changes are in store for Columbia Citys administrative staff, many of which will take place starting in 2019. Several long-term elected officials are also stepping down, making way for new faces to come on scene. A number of changes are being discussed when it comes to the leadership in Columbia City.

Longtime City Administrator Leahnette Rivers will be retiring at the end of this year and, in her absence, the city is considering moving Columbia City Police Chief Michael McGlothlin into the role.

City staff and council members have noted no final decisions have been made, but explained the direction they are heading.

Rivers said she has been working on providing some training since January this year, when she made the decision to retire.

Earlier this year, Columbia City began advertising for a new part-time police sergeant. The succession plan depends on who applies for the position and their qualifications, Rivers explained. If the right candidate applies, McGlothin could step into the city administrator role and still maintain administrative and oversight duties as police chief. The new police sergeant would then handle operational duties and patrol on a more day-to-day basis.

City staff and the Columbia City City Council are still discussing options and, so far, have received two applicants.

McGlothin and Rivers described the plan as preliminary and said they have not officially offered any contracts or made announcements about the potential staff changes yet.

Rivers exit from the city will occur at the same time as several other changes take place on the City Council and the mayor's seat. Longtime Columbia City Mayor Cheryl Young will step down from her term in office in December.

In November, voters will decide the next mayor during the election, but only one person has filed to be on the ballot — Casey Wheeler, who works at the Columbia Pacific Food Bank's executive director.

Additionally, Nell Harrison, who has been on council since 2014, will not seek reelection, and voters will only see one name on the ballot to fill the seat — Susan Zigliski.

New opportunities for police chief

McGlothlin has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience primarily working for municipal police departments and has worked in Columbia City since 2009. In 2015, he earned a master's degree in public administration from Columbia Southern University to help him prepare for what he describes as his "act two" of his career.

"I knew one day it would be time to hang up the badge and gun," McGlothlin said. "It's kind of like a natural progression. City and county administration has always been an interest for me in my second half."

McGlothlin added that, while the plan is still very tentative, he is excited for the possibility and what it could mean for him and his family.

Rivers ready to enjoy retirement

Rivers, who has worked with Columbia City since 1999, said she's simply decided it's time for her to step down and enjoy retirement, and hopefully be able to enjoy traveling with her husband. She has more than 40 years in government work experience.

Rivers got her start in municipal government at the age of 17 as a clerk typist in the city of Talent, a town of about 6,000 people in Jackson County. She also worked for Rogue River as a clerk typist, planning commission secretary, and even-

tually served as the first city administration for the city.

In 1999, she took the city administrator role in Columbia City.

Throughout her career in city government work, Rivers said she has enjoyed working in a small-town environment.

"You have the ability to make a difference in a small city so much easier," Rivers said.

Rivers has earned a variety of accolades along the way, including various distinguished budget awards, in all of the cities she has worked, including Columbia City. In 2015, she received the League of Oregon Cities Herman Kehrli Award, which is awarded to a city employee who provides lasting benefits to the community through exceptional contributions to city government.

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