After almost nine years at the helm of Sherwood city government, Joe Gall has a accepted a new job with the regional water resource management utility Clean Water Services in Hillsboro.
Gall has been named the agency's first-ever chief utility relations officer, placing him as head of the newly formed Regional Utility Services Department.
"The exciting thing about this job — of many — is I still get to work with cities," Gall said during an interview Tuesday, March 23. "One of the primary responsibilities is to work with all the differing partnering cities and strengthen that partnership."
Gall will continue with the city in the transition process as Sherwood searches for a new city manager, something that could take three to five months.
That includes finishing up with the upcoming fiscal year budget.
Gall said he expects the Sherwood City Council will name an interim city manager, which could be an internal person or someone from the outside.
Asked about accomplishments during his decade with the city, Gall said he can think of several.
"Some of the things that pop out, and I'm particularly proud of my team, I think getting the Sherwood Center for the Arts built during my tenure here — that was a long- envisioned project in Old Town, and we were able to get that project constructed … and it's been a big asset for the community and will be an asset for the community for many, many years," Gall said.
Gall also believes the city is in a better financial situation than when he started in 2012, having recently received a higher credit rating.
"I just think fiscally we're in better shape than we were when I started, and I'm proud of that fact," he said.
However, Gall admitted that his time with the city hasn't been smooth sailing all the way.
"I've had some bumpy council experiences over the nine years here," he said, declining to elaborate on specifics.
"I think I have been, for my staff, that steady rock for those periods," he said. "I joke, but it's based in reality — I've had five mayors in eight years …. Keith (Mays) was the mayor when I started, and now Keith is the mayor when I'm leaving. It's kind of weird."
Gall butted heads at times with former Mayor Bill Middleton and was city manager during the time an effort to recall then-Mayor Krisanna Clark-Endicott was launched, after she initially voted in favor of bringing in a new fitness company to replace the Sherwood Family YMCA. Clark-Endicott resigned, citing plans to relocate to Redmond with her children and husband, Redmond Mayor George Endicott, as the reason for her departure.
Gall said Sherwood has seen incredible growth over the last decade, including major developments along Langer Farms Parkway, which have included the addition of the Walmart superstore and Langer's Entertainment Center. Major development plans in the Tonquin Employment Area, on the west side of Southwest 124th Avenue, have begun as well.
"I think we are going to see more and more job growth here, hopefully," Gall said.
One project expected this summer is the widening of portions of Roy Rogers and Tualatin-Sherwood roads.
"And that's a project when it's all done (that) is going to be wonderful, but when it's being built, it's not going to be so wonderful," Gall said. He also said he was pleased to be part of the team that got all the high school projects done on time in cooperation with the school district.
He said he's seen lots of development and growth.
So where does Gall see Sherwood in a decade or so?
"I think we will continue to be a community that people love to live in, and hopefully more people will be working here and won't have to travel greater distances to go to jobs," he said. "I hope we have higher-wage jobs here. That's certainly the vision of the council."
Still, he thinks the community will continue to maintain its small-town feel and doesn't believe the city of more than 20,000 residents will see a huge population explosion.
"In 10 years, we won't be 80,000 (residents)," said Gall. "We'll still be a relatively small community in terms of population."
Gall said he still has children in Sherwood schools and will continue to live in the city.
"I love Sherwood, and I'm involved with the community in a variety of ways and will stay involved at least for the foreseeable future," said Gall.
In announcing his new position, Diane Taniguchi-Dennis, Clean Water Services' chief executive officer, wrote: "Joe has dedicated his career to public service and is very familiar with the opportunities and challenges that face CWS as a world-class regional utility serving a growing community."
Sherwood Mayor Keith Mays said he appreciates Gall's passion, commitment and drive throughout the years.
"Talented and successful leaders in local government eventually attract the attention of larger organizations and they get lured away," Mays wrote in a news release Tuesday. "Joe has a nine-year track record of success here, with deep connections in our community that will continue long after his departure."
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