The five candidates for Ashland city administrator include a raft of strong local talent — city Public Works Director Paula Brown, interim city Administrator Adam Hanks and Medford Deputy City Administrator Kelly Madding, an Ashland resident.
Also competing for the job are Corvallis finance director Nancy Brewer and Laura Allen, town administrator of Berlin, Maryland (pop. 5,000).
The candidates are expected to be on hand for a public reception at 4 p.m. today, Wednesday, June 13, in the Community Development Building at 51 Winburn Way. The next city administrator will be chosen by Mayor John Stromberg.
The job opened when Dave Kanner was dismissed in November 2016. Then-Fire Chief John Kanner took over as “interim” leader of city staff. He had “interim” dropped from his title in Decmeber 2017, with the understanding he would remain in the post until a new administrator was hired, but he then retired in March, with the city announcing his departure was due to “overseas travel and other personal commitments,” Hanks took over as interim administrator.
The city is spending $24,500 on a national search for a permanent replacement.
Hanks, the only male on the short list, has a long resume in Ashland city government dating back to 1990. His titles include assistant to the city administrator, management analyst, economic development project manager, development services manager and building permit manager, code compliance manager and finance department clerk. His degree in business administration is from Southern Oregon University.
Hanks’ resume cites skills in energy efficiency, renewables, water conservation, information technology, land use planning, sustainability, climate action and budgeting. He also cites a long history of working on common visions with mayor, City Council and department heads.
Hanks notes his “Ashland-specific experience” and, in his application, says “At its core, I see the position as a facilitator, communicator and supporter for three specific and very interrelated groups: Mayor and Council, City staff and the community … understanding that each may have different objectives or different desired pathways to similar objectives.”
Brown’s resume notes her job as public works director from 1997 to 2008 and again from 2017 to the present, interspersed with her service as a civil engineer in both Iraq wars. Her Navy career ran from 1982 to 2016, in both reserve and active roles, ending with the rank of rear admiral.
Brown was associate executive director of Rogue Valley Council of Governments. She was an engineer in Ventura and Santa Paula city governments and taught middle school math in earlier years. She has a master’s degree from George Washington University and is owner of the 33-acre Dana Campbell Vineyard & Tasting Room in Ashland.
Her application letter notes, “As a young professional, I ‘grew up’ in Ashland and have a historical perspective. But, as I have also been away for a decade, I am not stuck in the past. I look forward to building an open and transparent sense of governance for our community. I know we have an excellent staff and will help to build upon their knowledge, integrity and expertise to engage with our elected leaders to focus on priorities for the City.”
Madding’s resume notes jobs as development services director (planning, building, code enforcement) for Jackson County, economic development director for the county and city administrator of Talent, with a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oregon.
Her application letter says, “I am a collaborative leader, providing empowerment, encouragement and enthusiasm to those I lead in order to create a work environment that is both rewarding and challenging. I am not a micromanager; rather I clearly articulate my expectations and encourage staff to creatively and efficiently carry out those expectations.”
Brewer has been finance director in Corvallis since 1993 and was city manager pro tem for half a year. Earlier, she was a management analyst in city community development. She interned in finance with the city of Wichita, Kansas, and got her master’s degree in public administration at Wichita State University.
Allen has been city manager of Colma, California, and assistant city manager before that. She was a senior management analyst for Berkeley, California, and has her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nevada Reno.
The mayor’s choice is done by consent of the council in executive session, with the appointee made known “hopefully” by Friday, according to Tina Gray, the human resource director for the city of Ashland. If the appointee is from out of the area and not known to the council and mayor, a background check could take longer.
If the choice is Hanks, he would just continue in his post without much of a ripple and if it’s Brown, said Gray, “we have adequate staff to infill her job on an interim basis and see if they are interested in the long-term.”
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.