Clark County has a new county manager.
The Clark County Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a two-year contract with Kathleen Otto as the county’s top administrator. Otto had served as the interim county manager since March 2020.
Otto’s most recent interim contract was scheduled to expire May 31. Councilors have praised her handling of the county’s COVID-19 response, her communications with councilors and experience with county government. The decision had been expected for several months.
“She’s basically been through the fire, and she’s come out shining,” Council Chair Eileen Quiring O’Brien said. “We look forward to her continued leadership.”
Otto’s previous positions with the county include deputy county manager, director of internal resources and director of human resources. A resident of the Venersborg area, she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Portland as well as a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix.
She started the interim job on March 13 following the resignation of Shawn Henessee. That day, the council also approved its first declaration of emergency in response to COVID-19.
“I’m excited to accept the offer to serve as county manager for Clark County,” Otto said in a statement released Tuesday night. “As interim manager, I’ve seen the good work being done by county staff providing services to our community, and I’m proud to work with this amazing team.”
The council approved Otto’s permanent hiring after an executive session, which is closed to the public, at the beginning of Tuesday night’s council meeting. Additional details about Otto’s contract were not immediately available.
Several temporary and permanent county managers have filled the position since it was created in 2014 by the county charter. A majority of councilors approve hiring for the position, which oversees daily functions of county government and administers policy decisions made by the council.
Councilor Gary Medvigy said Tuesday that Otto’s permanent hiring “ensures stability” in the position.
“This has been a crucible for county leadership, and no one could have done it better than Kathleen,” Medvigy said.