PORT ANGELES — A former city manager has said he will accept an offer by Clallam County commissioners to succeed county Administrator Jim Jones, who is retiring by Oct. 31.
The board unanimously decided late Friday afternoon to offer the job to David Fraser, a government-sector consultant, pending an in-person background check.
Commissioners Mark Ozias, Bill Peach and Randy Johnson selected Fraser at a four-minute public meeting while Fraser was already on his way to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to return to his Boulder City, Nev., home.
“We’re excited about moving up there,” the 51-year-old married father of four grown children said in a telephone interview.
“I’ve been through a number of background checks.
“I am kind of a Boy Scout in terms of what they are going to be worrying about,” said Fraser, adding he has been a volunteer Scout leader.
The commissioners’ decision followed two days of executive sessions, a public community panel question-and-answer session, and a community meet-and-greet involving Fraser and two other applicants.
Fraser, a city manager at three small cities in Kansas, Michigan and Boulder City, was selected over Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Colleen McAleer of Sequim and former Clay County, Mo., administrator Dean Brookshier.
Fraser also was the unanimous choice of a community panel that interviewed the applicants individually at a public meeting Friday morning and two panels of elected officials and department heads, Johnson said in a later interview.
The position will pay between $130,201 and $158,652 annually.
In announcing their decision, commissioners focused on praising the process and panelists, including county employees, who participated in meetings on Thursday and Friday.
“What we are doing is really supporting teamwork,” Peach said.
“We were trying to orchestrate a highly complex process involving members of the public, involving members of our staff, involving the applicants and ourselves,” Ozias said.
Peach, Ozias and Johnson decided on the finalists in close-door executive sessions.
They narrowed down 33 applicants to 11 in executive session July 13, pared that to five applicants in executive session Aug. 10, and announced their decision 10 days later, on Aug. 20.
The state Attorney General’s Office has advised local governments not to narrow down applicants for public employment by making those decisions in executive session.
Two applicants dropped out, leaving Fraser, Brookshier and McAleer to go through what Johnson called “a pretty darn grueling process” Thursday and Friday.
Fraser is a senior associate at Municipal Solutions, a Goodyear, Ariz., consulting company.
He was city manager of Boulder City until June 2017, nine months after he was publicly criticized at a City Council meeting by elected Boulder City Mayor Rod Woodbury, who said Fraser’s project updates were not timely and that Fraser was unwilling to delegate, according to the Boulder City Review newspaper.
All three applicants were interviewed by the county commissioners Friday morning in executive session.
“We spoke briefly about that, but I don’t remember what he said about that,” Ozias said after the vote.
In an earlier interview, Fraser said the newspaper gave an unfair account of the meeting and said in his application packet to the commissioners that Woodbury “went on a bit of an unfair rant.”
The commissioners were interviewed individually after their meeting Friday.
Ozias selected Fraser because of his “depth of experience managing people and working in a public setting,” he said.
Fraser also was the only applicant with a master’s degree in public administration, Ozias added.
“He spoke directly to his desire and goal to help grow others professionally and that was appealing to all three commissioners.”
Peach said Fraser’s focus on teamwork and recognizing the importance of collaboration “was sincere, and it came through many, many times from different people that participated in this.”
He said he was bothered by Brookshier not making eye contact during his interviews, seeing eye contact as a measure of sincerity and trustworthiness, adding others in the interview process made the same observation.
Brookshier resigned his Clay County, Mo., county administrator position July 18 after residents there successfully petitioned the Missouri State Auditor’s Office to conduct a performance audit of Clay County.
Johnson, confirming that commissioners had ranked McAleer as their second choice and Brookshier as their third, said Fraser was the most qualified candidate, adding that McAleer is “a super person, a very intelligent person who cares a lot about our community.”
McAleer did not have the minimum 10 years of managerial, financial and executive-level decision-making experience in local government that was required according to the job description.
“It was a really difficult decision for us to have to make,” Johnson said.
“What really impressed me was the fact that when you ask about [Fraser’s] most proud accomplishment, he had five other people who worked for him that are now city managers,” Johnson said.
“That speaks a lot about grooming people to move up. That was very impressive to me.
“All the candidates had impressive credentials.”
Ozias said that assuming Fraser passes muster in his background check, he will be offered a contract that commissioners will approve in open session within the next several weeks.
The process of approving a 2019 budget is about halfway completed, Ozias said.
Ozias said he expects that Fraser, compared to Jones, will perform fewer budgeting and financial duties as Fraser settles into his new position.
“My expectation is that we will work with the new county administrator and other officials from throughout the county to look at what we want to accomplish through some sort of a consolidated financial function,” Ozias said.
“I fully expect the new administrator to help determine what arrangement is most appropriate for the organization to accomplish those goals.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].