City News

City manager Steve Powers will retire Feb. 28

City Manager Steve Powers responds to questions from a crowd of neighbors at Pringle Community Hall on Jan. 17, 2020.

Salem’s city manager, Steve Powers, announced Monday that he will retire Feb. 28 after six years at the city.

Powers began working for the city in the fall of 2015 after relocating from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he spent four years as the city administrator. He will return to Michigan with his wife to spend time with their growing family, according to a Monday evening city news release.

“Working with Salem mayors and city councilors, department directors, staff, and the community is a highlight of my career,” Powers said in the news release.  “Salem’s use of the council/manager form of government is an effective partnership of policy and administration. We have made progress on community priorities established by city council that are essential to maintaining and improving the quality of life for all in Salem. I’m honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to contribute over the past six years.”

The Salem City Council appoints the city manager, who serves as the city’s chief executive officer and implements policies the council sets. The city manager also acts as the executive director of the Urban Renewal Agency and Salem Housing Authority.  

A third-party contractor will lead the effort to recruit people from across the country to take over Powers’ position, the news release said. If nobody is recruited by March 2022, urban development director Kristin Retherford will become the interim city manager. She has served in that position since December 2015, and was previously Wilsonville’s economic development manager for 12 years. 

In his role as the city’s chief executive, Powers has guided Salem through the Covid pandemic and steered city policy on homelessness. He also led the hiring of new police Chief Trevor Womack, the construction of a new police station and the seismic retrofit of the library.

“I can’t thank City Manager Steve Powers enough for his outstanding work on behalf of the City over the past six years,” Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett said in a statement. “His retirement is well earned. I look forward now to continuing the City’s work in cooperation with Acting City Manager Kristin Retherford and our outstanding leadership staff.”

Powers earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Political Science from Augustana College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas. He brought to Salem over 25 years of experience in government leadership, including financial management, economic expansion and forming community partnerships, the news release said.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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