Monday, May 20, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 30, 2012
DALLAS -- What was once a field of 46 candidates applying to be the next Dallas city manager has been whittled down to three.
The three finalists are: Ellen Barnes, the current city manager for Molalla; Ron Foggin, who was most recently the assistant city manager for Lehi, Utah; and Aaron Palmquist, who last served as the community manager for Crooked River Ranch in Terrebonne.
Foggin, 45, served as the assistant city manager for 15 years in Lehi, a town of about 52,000. In that post he managed 16 departments and services, overseeing 325 full- or part-time employees.
"That last year, I was the interim city manager while the community looked for another administrator, which meant I kind of did everything," Foggin said via phone last week.
Foggin did apply to be city manager, but didn't land the post. He said the town's mayor decided it was best to look outside the city rather than promote from within. That was when Foggin decided to resign and continue his career elsewhere.
"I had worked hard to earn that position, and being looked over, I thought maybe this wasn't the place I could be successful," Foggin said. "I thought maybe it's time to go somewhere else, to branch out and see what I could do in another community."
Foggin resigned in June and has since been looking for another opportunity to work as a city manager.
He said Dallas seemed like a perfect match, both in terms of the skills required for the job and location.
"My family absolutely loves Oregon," he said. "When I came across the position in a full-service community, I thought it fit my skill set very well."
Before becoming Molalla's city manager about a year ago, Barnes, 44, was the city manager of Gold Beach, serving there for two years.
Barnes said she often looked to Dallas as a model in implementing programs in the other cities she's worked in. She said, from what she's seen, the Dallas City Council is strong and stable, and the staff highly capable, so she felt compelled to apply.
"I'm very excited about working with other professionals," she said. "It appears that you have an excellent team on both sides."
Early in her time in Molalla, Barnes was surprised to discover a number of financial missteps the city had to correct, not unlike what Dallas is facing now.
She took on helping rebalance the budget and rebuilding the public's trust in the city. Barnes said she feels she has taken that process as far as she can.
"It was a lot of work that wasn't anticipated," she said. "We've been working through it. The changes are in place, but I think it would be beneficial for someone else to come in to take it to the next level."
However, Barnes said she is ready -- and has the experience -- to be part of that same process for Dallas.
"Trust has been broken," she said. "It takes a great deal of effort to regain that trust."
Palmquist, 49, said he left Crooked River Ranch in September of 2011 with the intention of returning to public service.
The ranch is a quasi-governmental entity providing services to community residents for a fee. Palmquist worked with a board of directors to oversee ranch operations.
Before Crooked River Ranch, Palmquist served as Salem's interim city recorder, a public works senior management analyst in Springfield and Monroe's city recorder.
He said he believes he has found a good match for his experience in the city of Dallas. He said he would work to provide transparency and accountability to Dallas, working with elected officials, staff, community stakeholders and business owners to make that happen.
"I look forward to building strong relationships and finding how we go forward to continue to meet the needs of residents of Dallas," he said.
Palmquist left Monroe amid some controversy. However, he said the city was going through trying times involving recalls and infighting among council members. He said there was also concerns about the handling of the city's finances.
Palmquist said he was asked to resign, but he refused: "I said, `No. I haven't done anything,' and I hadn't."
His departure came down to a vote, with one half of the council supporting him and the other not. The mayor at the time broke the vote, siding with those wanting to fire him.
"There was some turmoil in the city," he said. "Staff are sometimes the ones who get in the middle of it."
Dallas Mayor Brian Dalton said the city council selected the three finalists based on references and resumes.
"The council believed they would be the best fit for the community," he said.
The public will have the opportunity to judge the candidates for themselves and provide feedback Nov. 7 at a "meet-and-greet" reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Dallas Civic Center, 945 SE Jefferson St.
On Nov. 8, the candidates will go through an extensive interview process.
"We will have a lot people meeting with these three," Dalton said. "We are getting a lot of community input."
MEET THE CITY MANAGER FINALISTS
Name: Ellen Barnes.
Current position: Molalla city manager.
On why she wants to work in Dallas: "I think there are a few gems in the state -- cities that in my opinion are models. Ashland is one of them and Dallas is another. ... I was always envious of the person who was (city manager) there" (in Dallas).
Name: Ron Foggin.
Previous position: Lehi, Utah, assistant city manager.
On why he wants to work in Dallas: "I thought it (Dallas) was an absolutely perfect match for my skills. I'm excited for the opportunity."
Name: Aaron Palmquist.
Previous position: Crooked River Ranch community manager.
On why he wants to work in Dallas: "I want to bring a new level of customer service and responsibility to the city. The city always has a great core, but how do we bring it up another notch?"