Council members extend search for city manager to third round
September 27, 2016
The Sweet Home City Council last week held off on making a decision whether to offer the city manager position to its final candidate for the position.
The council did not reach a decision following its second round of interviews on Sept. 19, instead choosing to take a little more time considering whether to offer the job to Raymond Towry of Ephrata, Wash. The council took comments from the public and entered a closed executive session on Sept. 21 to further consider the candidate.
Upon exiting the special session, the council decided 5-0 to continue considering Towry and ask him to return for a third interview.
Voting to continue the process were councilors James Goble, Ryan Underwood, Greg Mahler, Mayor Jim Gourley and Dave Trask. Jeff Goodwin attended the meeting but had to leave prior to the vote. Diane Gerson attended the meeting by conference call, but also had to leave prior to the vote.
“There’s still a little bit of a split on the council,” Gourley said following the executive session. “We will invite him back. We will talk to him in a more personal format.”
With Gourley leaving the council when his term expires on Dec. 31 and up to three other councilors who could potentially leave, depending on the results of the Nov. 8 election, Gourley said he did not like the idea of a possible 4-3 vote on whether to hire Towry.
“People are just not comfortable with the experience level,” Gourley said.
Towry is recreation and public relations director for the city of Ephrata, a community of about 8,000 people located in the center of Washington, about 15 miles north of Moses Lake and Interstate 90. He has worked for Ephrata since 2004.
He was the final candidate of four for the Sweet Home city manager position. Two withdrew from the process prior to the second interview. The council decided on Sept. 19 that it would not extend an offer to a third candidate, Henry Staven of Bandon.
The city manager position has been vacant since Craig Martin left at the end of April. Martin had been city manager since 1997.
Sweet Home resident Jo Ann McQueary told the council during the Sept. 19 meeting not to settle, but she believed Towry was a good candidate for the position.
“You have a candidate that meets most of the criteria you set,” McQueary told the council on Sept. 21.
She recognized that the decision is a challenging one, she said. “We’ve been many months now in a little bit of disarray. Do your best, which I think you’re doing.”
“I want to acknowledge what you have done, and you have been open in the process,” said Sharon Kanareff, another local resident. “I want you to think because you have a pretty good candidate.”
The council has since scheduled the third interview for Oct. 3.