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Aug. 13, 2020

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Camas Mayor McDonnell taps Jamal Fox as next city administrator

City council to vote Aug. 3 on appointment's confirmation

By , Columbian county government and small cities reporter
Published:

A top official in Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s administration has been tapped as the next Camas city administrator.

Camas Mayor Barry McDonnell announced Monday that he selected Jamal Fox, one of two deputy chiefs of staff working for Wheeler, to fill the city’s top administrative role. The Camas City Council will vote on Aug. 3 whether to confirm Fox’s appointment.

Before serving in Wheeler’s administration over the past year, Fox worked two years as the property and business development manager in Portland Parks & Recreation. In 2013, at age 25, Fox became the youngest person ever elected to the Greensboro, N.C., City Council, where he served for four years.

Washington, D.C., City Administrator Rashad Young hired Fox as an intern in 2009 while Young was the administrator in Greensboro, a city of nearly 300,000 people. Young wrote a letter of recommendation for Fox during his application for the Camas position.

Before joining the Greensboro City Council, Fox worked as a management analyst in Young’s office and an administrative assistant in the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development.

Fox spent a year at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University as an adjunct political science professor. He earned a degree in political science from the university in 2010 and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Capella University.

Fox, in a news release Monday, said he would be “honored” to serve as the city’s next administrator.

“I am looking forward to leading a strong and high-performing team of professionals and partnering with Mayor McDonnell in taking the city of Camas to the next level with a focus on the three Cs for sustained organizational performance and success: core, culture and communications,” Fox said.

If the city council approves Fox’s appointment, he is expected to begin Aug. 31.

“His background and skillset will be valuable in helping the city engage with the community to shape a (vision) for my three core priorities — land, people and honesty — while at the same time inspiring the next generation of Camas leaders and strengthening our community so everyone feels heard, empowered and welcome,” McDonnell said.

Former Camas City Administrator Pete Capell announced in December that he would step down from his position. Capell’s announcement came after McDonnell, a write-in candidate, defeated incumbent Mayor Shannon Turk in the November mayoral election.

McDonnell, whose campaign began about a month before Election Day, was carried by opposition to a proposition on the same ballot that would have earmarked $78 million for a new community center. The bond failed with nearly 90 percent opposition.

Capell later said that, as a de facto spokesperson for the bond and other city priorities, the community center debate put “a target on my back.”

After beginning a search in January, the city reviewed 67 applications for the position, McDonnell said in a video conversation with Fox posted Monday. The mayor said he worked with the city council to narrow the candidate list.

Fox said that managing development downtown and at the Lacamas Lake North Shore, protecting natural areas and creating recreational opportunities are some of the priorities he would need to address in the position.

“Building trust, or rebuilding and strengthening trust, to make sure that Camasonians believe in their government, that they have the same vision, or the strategic vision that we create, they see themselves in that vision,” Fox said.

Fox lives with his wife and their 1-year-old son. He lauded the city’s history, parks, residents, infrastructure, schools and public safety.

“Camas is poised for great things,” Fox said. “We wanted a place where we can lay our roots and grow our family, and Camas was that community.”

Columbian county government and small cities reporter
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