The only person to serve as Camas city administrator has announced his plans to retire.
Lloyd Halverson, who has held the position for nearly 23 years, revealed his decision publicly on Friday during the city’s annual planning conference at the Camas Community Center.
In an emotional statement, he said he will leave his full-time duties in early fall 2012, at which time he said he would be open to working for the city on a part-time basis through March 2013.
During this time he would assist with the transition to a new city administrator, obtain outside funding for capital projects, be a legislative advocate for the city, assist with property acquisitions and perform other tasks assigned by Mayor Scott Higgins.
“I fully support this plan,” Higgins said. “Though honestly my heart breaks for this change, it is the right way at the right time.”
Higgins, a former councilman who was appointed to the mayor’s seat in June and elected in November, said 10 months ago when Halverson first broached the topic with him, his first reaction was “to beg this man to stay with me during my time as mayor.”
Realizing this was “selfish” on his part, Higgins said together they mapped out a detailed plan leading up to Halverson’s retirement.
“But he is going to be my trusted advisor for as long as he is around,” Higgins said. “And he assures me that is going to be a long time.”
Halverson, 65, was hired as the city’s first administrator in May 1989 by then-Mayor Nan Henriksen to fill the newly created position. He previously worked for seven years as the city manager in Independence, Ore. He also spent time as an executive director for a private non-profit organization in California and early in his professional life was a high school teacher in California.
Halverson said when he initially took the job in Camas he never imagined his career here would span so long. In 1989, Camas was home to approximately 6,000 residents, and the city employed about 65 people. Now, there are 19,620 residents and 174 full-time equivalent employees.
“The dynamic development in the community has brought interesting challenges for two decades,” he said. “And it continues to bring interesting challenges.”
Councilman Don Chaney has worked with Halverson in two different capacities. In 2007 Chaney retired as the Camas police chief after a 35-year career with the city. That same year, he was elected by voters to serve on its City Council.
“He is the stability of our organization,” Chaney said. “He is our rock. He is an eternal optimist, but he has the competence too. We all have confidence in him.”
From day one, Halverson has held a special interest in preserving property for open space and parks land within city limits.
Camas currently boasts 1,650 acres of publicly owned parks and open space areas, and approximately 24 miles of walking and biking trails. The city’s 14th developed park, Fallen Leaf Lake Park, was dedicated in August.
“If there is going to be a legacy, and there will be one, probably the most notable will be how this community will look green for years to come because of his efforts,” Chaney said.
Higgins said recruitment for Halverson’s replacement will begin this spring, and will likely focus on building a pool of applicants hailing from Oregon and Washington.
“We won’t find another Lloyd, and we know that,” Higgins said. “It’s awfully intimidating to know that I could set the course for the next 23 years. I won’t be doing it alone. Our team and the community will be involved.”
Halverson also plans to take part in the search effort, which aims to have a new city administrator in place by September.
“My assistance can focus on assuring a good process, and assuring a good field of high quality applicants,” Halverson said. “It is likely that the timing of this process will naturally favor an attractive group of candidates.”
Halverson said the decision to retire was difficult but he has confidence in the city’s current “cast,” from elected officials to department heads and employees.
“It’s been an incredible opportunity,” he said of his career in Camas. “The team has built a shining city on the hill. I love this community, I love this team. I love this job.”