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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

As county council eyes county manager review, Ross applies for job

Problem is, it hasn't been advertised; McCauley might get job permanently

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter
Published: March 7, 2016, 6:43pm

A familiar face has filed an unexpected application for Clark County manager as the county council considers how best to fill the job.

Lisa Ross, a conservative Republican who unsuccessfully ran for Vancouver port commissioner last year, submitted her application for county manager early Monday afternoon to the councilors and the county’s human resources director. Ross, a certified public accountant who in her résumé lists no experience with managing government agencies, did not respond to The Columbian’s request for comment.

“My family has grown up in Southwest Washington over the last 13 years, and I would love to be able to use my education, experience, and business acumen to make our county a more efficient and customer focused organization,” Ross wrote in a cover letter addressed to Councilor David Madore and obtained by The Columbian through a public records request.

The problem is, the county hasn’t opened applications for the position, and it may not. On Tuesday morning, the county will consider a $6,750 contract with Waldron, a Seattle-based human resources consulting firm, to review the performance of Acting County Manager Mark McCauley by interviewing department heads and other community leaders. Depending on what they find, McCauley might get the job permanently.

Though the aim is to eventually name a permanent county manager, there is no listing for the position on the county’s human resources website. The Clark County council — which under the home rule charter has sole authority over the hiring and firing of the county manager — has not made any official decisions about the position.

Council Chair Marc Boldt, no party preference, had strong words for Ross’ application, which he said came as a surprise.

“I essentially filed this in the garbage,” he said.

Tensions flaring

Ross’ application comes in the midst of flaring tensions between McCauley and Madore.

In October, Madore accused McCauley in an email of “unsatisfactory performance,” “unprofessional behavior” and “poor judgment.” In an email last month, Madore accused McCauley of insubordination after the acting county manager explained to the councilor that documents he had requested were drafts, and therefore not available to him.

The Republican councilor, however, is a major supporter of Ross — at least with his pocketbook.

Madore contributed $13,500 to Ross’ losing campaign against Eric LaBrant last year for the Port of Vancouver commission, according to the filings with the state Public Disclosure Commission. In total, she raised about $59,110.

Ross also ran and lost against incumbent state Rep. Jim Moeller, D-Vancouver, in 2014. Madore made no contributions to her campaign that year.

Ross is also the vice chair of the Clark County Republican Party, according to her résumé.

McCauley was hired as county administrator after Bill Barron retired in 2013. He was appointed acting county manager, with an annual salary of $163,000, in December 2014 after voters approved the charter, which separated the legislative and executive branches of the county.

McCauley’s contract runs through Dec. 31 and stipulates that it can be extended for an additional year. However, it requires the newly expanded five-person council created by the home rule charter to decide by June 30 whether to keep McCauley in that position.

“I have faith that the council will do what they feel is necessary in making the decision that is in front of them,” McCauley said Monday. “I’m just going to keep doing my job until they make that decision.”

Public Meeting: Clark County council

• What: Consideration of a contract to conduct a review of Acting County Manager Mark McCauley.

• When: 10 a.m. Tuesday.

• Where: Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

Boldt said he emailed Ross to tell her he thinks McCauley is doing a fine job, and that if the review comes back with negative comments, “then we might go out for a search.”

Equal opportunity employer

In recent weeks, Madore has advocated for greater diversity in hiring at Clark County over the county manager position, saying the county has a pattern of hiring white men to director seats.

“We’re an employer that’s supposed to lead by example,” Madore said recently.

Ross echoed Madore’s comments in her cover letter.

“The fact that Clark County is proud to be an equal opportunity employer gives me the confidence that my application will be given serious consideration,” she wrote.

Federal law enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

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Columbian Education Reporter