Camas names administrator finalists

Five candidates will meet with city officials and residents, attend open house this week

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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Five finalists vying to replace Camas' first and only city administrator, Lloyd Halverson, will meet with city officials and residents this week in a series of tours, interviews and a community open house.

Camas city officials hope to zero in on a top choice by the end of the week and finish contract negotiations by the end of July. Once hired, the new city administrator could possibly start at the beginning of October, depending on his availability.

"This is a big hire for us. We haven't made this one for 23 years," Camas Mayor Scott Higgins said, noting he had confidence the city would "get it right."

After serving in his current capacity since May 1989, Halverson, 65, announced earlier this year that he planned to retire. He plans to relinquish his full-time duties at the end of September, if the city has a replacement in place, and then work part-time until March 2013.

Halverson said he had mixed feelings as the city administrator search draws nearer to completion.

"I enjoy this team and enjoy the work so much," he said. "On the other hand, I am trying to assure there are as few loose ends as possible."

Residents will have the opportunity to meet the finalists from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Camas Fire Station 42, 4321 N.W. Parker St.

The finalists include two people with Camas ties -- Camas High School Principal Steven Marshall and current Clark County Community Development Director Martin Snell, who served for almost a decade as Camas' planning manager. The three other finalists include Erik Jensen, who has spent four years as director of the Hillsboro, Ore., Administration Department; Craig Martin, city manager for Sweet Home, Ore., for the past 15 years; and Paul Schmidt, city administrator for Oak Harbor for the past six years.

The quintet of finalists emerged from 51 applicants, a "good crop," Halverson said.

The new city administrator will earn between $113,000 and $135,000 per year, based on experience. Halverson earned $126,450 in 2011. He was scheduled to make $127,625 this year, if he had worked full time the entire year.

The finalists will meet for dinner with the city's council and Higgins this evening. On Tuesday, the candidates will tour the city in the morning and meet with department heads at the police department during the early afternoon.

Following Tuesday night's open house, the finalists will participate in two panel interviews on Wednesday. From there, the top two choices will be selected with the aid of three former Camas mayors, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard, Clark County Administrator Bill Barron and Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes, among others.

The top choices will then meet with Higgins between 9 a.m. and noon on Thursday.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend;http://twitter.com/col_smallcities;ray.legendre@columbian.com.