Holmberg drops bid for Ridgefield city manager job

He accepts new job with BergerABAM

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Port of Woodland Executive Director Nelson Holmberg, one of three finalists for the Ridgefield city manager job, said Monday that he has accepted a job with BergerABAM.

That leaves Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart and Chris Sutter, assistant chief with the Vancouver Police Department, as finalists for the Ridgefield position.

The finalists for the Ridgefield job were interviewed Feb. 28 by panels consisting of community members, elected officials, and city and regional managers.

Holmberg, 47, said Monday his decision was based on BergerABAM’s offer “and the position being a more perfect fit for what I want to do, career-wise.”

His title with the consulting firm will be senior public involvement project manager. BergerABAM is a consulting firm offering services in the areas of planning, civil and structural engineering, environmental services and more. The Federal Way-based company acquired the JD White Co. in Vancouver in 2006.

The Ridgefield City Council will likely hold a special executive session to discuss results of background checks on the candidates before its next regularly scheduled meeting on March 13.

The new city manager will replace Phil Messina, an Oregon transplant who held the job less than a year before announcing his resignation.

The city created the position in 2000. It has a salary range of $105,000 to $125,000.

The first city manager was George Fox, who was fired by the city council a little more than a year into his four-year contract. Because of how Fox’s contract was written, he could be fired only if he were convicted of a felony or gross misdemeanor, which he was not. Fox received a $247,500 settlement.

Justin Clary replaced Fox and shepherded the city through a period of heavy growth. In 2012, he took an engineering job with Maul Foster Alongi’s Bellingham office.

Stuart, 42, said in January that he was not going to seek re-election this year. He has served on the Board of Clark County Commissioners for a decade.

Sutter, 52, was named assistant chief in 2008. He served as interim police chief following the resignation of Cliff Cook in 2012 and was a finalist for chief. Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes ultimately hired James McElvain, a captain with the Riverside County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Department.