LFP Gets to Know City Administrator Candidates

Event set up by city and Prothman Company allows one-on-one interaction between community and candidates

An introduction of city administrator finalists brought out about 50 people to Lake Forest Park City Hall Monday evening for an audition prior to a full day of interviews.

Lake Forest Park residents, city staff, city commission members and Councilmembers were encouraged to chat one-one-one with the city's five city administrator candidates as selected by The Prothman Company.

The five candidates who showed for the event were: Mark Hoppen, the interim deputy director of the Snohomish Health District; Deborah Knight, city administrator, of Sultan; Phil Messina, city manager, Central Point, Oregon; Donald (Pete) Rose, county administrator, San Juan County, Wash.; and Michael Sauerwein, director of administrative services, Sammamish, Wash. The sixth finalist, Ronald F. Chandler, the city manager of Cedar City, Utah was not there.

The city's recently hired finance director Steve Nolen is serving as acting city administrator, following the departure of interim city administrator Bob Jean.

David Cline, the city's last full-time city administrator, made $118,113 per year in salary and a total of $161,866 with benefits included in his last full year in 2010.

Greg Prothman, owner of the Seattle-based headhunting firm Prothman Company, said the search primarily focused on 11 western states. The company sent out 650 letters inviting potential candidates to apply and 50 responded. Sixteen semi-finalists were chosen and eventually a group of six finalists were chosen.

"I was very, very pleased with the quality of the candidates," Prothman said.

Prothman said the candidates are choosing the city and its residents as much as the city and its residents are choosing the candidates.

"The interactive process will determine who is the best fit for the job," he said.

The finalists will be interviewed by four panels including the Mayor, City Council, Leadership Team, and a Public Advisory Panel today, Tuesday, April 17. The Public Advisory Panel will include representatives from Lake Forest Park Commissions, the local business community, Lake Forest Park Rotary, local water and utility districts, and Youth Court.

Here's a brief rundown on each candidate:

Pete Rose

Age: 60

Education: B.A. Political Science, UC-Davis; M.A. Cal.-State Sacramento, Government.

Background: Spent last six years as county administrator of newly formed San Juan County government. County government was only municipality to pass a levy-lid lift in 2009. Served as city manager of Woodinville in 1990s during its incorporation. Started out in winery management in California before going back to school and getting into local government. Spent 13 years at start of career in government in Salem, Ore. 

Quote: Regarding the recession and its lingering effects: "It's been extremely hard, it's sharpened all of us in trying to manage during difficult times with declining revenues. The most important thing is to listen."

Mark Hoppen:

Age: 61

Education: B.A. English Literature, Univ. of Washington; Master's in Public Administration, Univ. of Washington; Ed.D, Leadership, Seattle Univ. 

Background: Grew up in Gig Harbor, coached varsity basketball and taught in south sound including Gig Harbor, Federal Way, and University Place. City manager of Gig Harbor for 14 years; city councilman in Gig Harbor; planning administrator city of Puyallup; active in Gig Harbor community including involvement with Greater Gig Harbor Foundation, non-profits dedicated to reducing domestic violence, Gig Harbor Arts Commission. During his time in Gig Harbor city government, he saw the assessed valuation of property go from $200 million to nearly $2 billion.

Deborah Knight

Age: 48

Education: B.A. Economics, UC-Davis; M.A. Business Administration, City Univ. (Seattle).

Background: Spent last five-and-a-half years has been city manager of Sultan, a small rural Snohomish County town; previously was assistant city manager in Woodinville under fellow candidate Pete Rose for six years; worked in Public Works in Woodinville for five years and got start in city government as an administrative assistant in that department. 

Quote: "Think creatively about solving that problem," she said. "Creativity is the key."

Phil Messina

Age: 62

Education: B.A. Speech, Univ. of Washington; M.A. Whole Systems Design, Antioch Univ.

Background: Grew up in Mountlake Terrace. Was in restaurant business and owned an espresso machine company prior to going back to school and getting into municipal government to support his young family. Has been city manager in Central Point, Ore. a 17,000-bedroom/agricultural community, outside Medford for the last 10 years. Previously was city administrator in North Bend, Wash. and Colfax, Wash.

Michael Sauerwein

Age: 49

Education: B.A. Political Science, Univ. of Oregon; M.A. Public Affairs, Univ. of Oregon

Background: From Gresham, Ore. and worked for an Oregon Congressman before going into city government. Worked in Hood River, Ore. as city reporter (clerk) and Lincoln City, Oregon as assistant city manager, before becoming city manager of Sheridan, Ore. for 11 years. Was laid off from Lincoln City job after property tax limitation measure passed in Oregon and then worked for more than a year as outlet store manager. Has worked in Sammamish the last eight years as administrative services manger, which includes working negotiating contracts and handling human resources, as well as managing relationships with King County.

Quote: Said he enjoys the vitality of Lake Forest Park and its sense of history and sense of place and involved populous. "I'd rather hear from people."



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