City News

City Council lays out what they’d like to see in Salem’s next city manager

Salem City Hall. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem’s city councilors would the city’s next manager to have experience with community engagement and be bilingual in Spanish, according to feedback given to a recruiter during a special city council meeting Tuesday.  

Councilors spent an hour discussing a candidate profile that listed the qualifications desired, while also listing off attributes they’d hope to see. 

The city manager position is open following the retirement of current City Manager Steve Powers, whose last day is Feb. 28. The city manager directs day-to-day administration of the city based on council policies, with a budget of $674.9 million. 

Among the qualities listed in the candidate profile are integrity, transparent communication and strategic thinking. The candidate profile was developed by the recruiter, Raftelis, prior to the meeting. 

“The ideal candidate leans in on complex issues, including climate change, equity, affordable housing, and homelessness, and supports sound decisions while maintaining the flexibility to meet the changing, growing needs of the community,” the profile states. 

Powers has been city manager since 2015, serving as a quiet force working behind the scenes at the city.  

The candidate profile for his replacement lists priorities such as building strong relationships with the council and city staff, advancing council priorities and ensuring financial stability. 

The salary ranges from $220,000 to $250,000.  

The city council’s 2022 priorities include responding to the homeless sheltering crisis, planning for Salem’s future, engaging the community and sustaining infrastructure and services.  

Councilor Vanessa Nordyke said a scoring sheet would reflect the real priorities for a manager, such as how highly experience will be rated. She wanted to know how that sheet would be scored.  

She said she’d like to see concrete examples of some of the qualities councilors said they’re looking for, like experience working with Black, Indigenous and people of color or fostering diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“Those are some of the things that can really help distinguish candidates who are usually clever enough to say all the right things, but can they actually deliver? For example, I would love to see candidates who have direct experience in working with the homeless community. Those who have actually volunteered with persons experiencing homelessness. It can have a real impact on your mindset,” she said. 

Councilor Jackie Leung said she’d like to see a candidate with a proven track record of community involvement. 

The profile said a successful candidate recognizes the importance of following through on established goals while balancing a variety of views.  

“With proven emotional intelligence, the city manager values diversity of thought, willingly engages in complex conversations, and serves as a catalyst for broad citywide discussions,” the profile reads.  

Councilor Tom Andersen said he’d like to see a candidate that had experience working in diversity, equity and inclusion. He also said it would be helpful to have a manager that spoke Spanish, though “not a major requirement.” 

Candidates need to apply by April 17, with final interviews taking place the second week of June.

Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250, [email protected] 

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