Damascus City Manager Makes Retirement Plans

Damascus city manager to retire; recruitment firm enlisted to replace him

Published: Monday, February 27, 2012, 10:11 AM

DAMASCUS — City Manager Dan O’Dell will retire in June, and the city has enlisted a recruitment agency to find his replacement.

O’Dell, who was appointed interim city manager last March then to city manager in April after serving as the city’s finance director for five years, said his decision to step down was based on readiness to retire and a feeling that he had done what he could for the city.

“I wanted to give it my best shot moving the city forward,” he said. “I just came to the personal decision that its best for not only me but the city that someone else steps into the position.”

The next city manager will be tasked with what O’Dell called a monumental task — moving Damascus through the process of creating a comprehensive plan.

“Damascus presents a unique challenge for someone,” O’Dell said of the city’s inability since its incorporation to agree on a comprehensive plan. “It’s not been easy around here.”

But, he said, the city’s state of uncertainty could attract someone with the ambition to help build it.

“It’s basically a blank slate. There are people out there who are excited over that kind of opportunity,” O’Dell said. “For some people, that motivates them.”

Mayor Steve Spinnett echoed the idea.

“We want to have a manager that recognizes the adventure of building a new city and sees that as something incredible,” Spinnett said. “I think that person’s out there.”

Spinnett also said it would be important to find someone with the right temperament.

“You have to be thick skinned,” he said. “We have some bullies in the community.”

The city has budgeted up to $25,000 for the recruitment by Waldron, a human resources company with an office in Portland.

O’Dell said the firm will launch a national recruitment and expects at least 50-75 people to apply for the position, which the Damascus 2011-2012 budget estimates will pay $120,357 plus benefits.  The pool will narrow to two or three candidates, who will then be interviewed and selected by the City Council.

Hopefully, O’Dell said, a new manager will be selected by the end of June, but he’ll stay until his replacement is chosen.

“I’m not going to leave the city high and dry,” he said.