Kanner is a good choice

The Ashland City Council has made a good choice in confirming Mayor John Stromberg's appoinment of Dave Kanner as the new city administrator.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday night to confirm Stromberg's choice. The mayor had help from city staff members and local residents who helped interview candidates during the search process.

Kanner replaces Martha Bennett, who left the city administrator's post in October to become chief operating officer for Portland Metro. The city hired Larry Patterson, who retired as city manager in Oregon City, to be interim city manager while city leaders searched for a permanent replacement.

Kanner is well-known in Rogue Valley government circles because he was deputy administrator for Jackson County from 2000 to 2006. One of his major responsibilities was overseeing the $39 million library construction project approved by voters in 2000. He gets high marks from newspaper staff for being accessible and forthcoming about county business.

Kanner was fired as Deschutes County administrator in August after a 2-1 vote by the three county commissioners. News reports and Kanner's own account suggest a personality conflict with one commissioner in particular over his management style led to the dismissal.

Rogue Valley residents accustomed to long-tenured city and county administrators might not realize that getting fired is an occupational hazard of the profession. A national survey found the average city manager stays on the job seven years.

Part of that has to do with serving at the pleasure of elected city councils and county boards of commissioners. In the case of a three-member county board, all it takes is two votes to oust an administrator, as Kanner learned in Bend.

His critics there cited a condescending attitude in union negotiations and not enough positive interactions with staff. But department heads praised him for being willing to present unpopular ideas to the commissioners if he believed they were in the best interests of the county.

Kanner also was credited for honesty, integrity and professional expertise in his Deschutes County evaluations.

We welcome him back to the Rogue Valley and look forward to his service to Ashland.

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