Seven months after the city of Camas kicked off its search for a new city administrator, Mayor Barry McDonnell has named Jamal Fox, the deputy chief of staff to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, to the position.
“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 stated in a press release issued by the city this afternoon.
The Camas City Council will consider Fox’s appointment and contract at the Council’s Aug. 3 meeting. Fox is expected to start his new position Aug. 31.
“I feel very fortunate to have Jamal as our new city administrator,” McDonnell stated in the press release. “His background and skill set 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 announced Fox’s appointment in a video posted to the city’s YouTube channel this morning, before sending a press release.
“This has been a very long process that started in early January,” McDonnell said in the video.
He said the city had 67 candidates vying to replace former Camas City Administrator Pete Capell announced his retirement in December 2019, just one month after voters ousted the former mayor and elected McDonnell, a newcomer to politics, to lead the city.
Capell began his position in 2013 and led day-to-day operations for the city through the end of 2019.
In January, Camas City Council members voted to hire Waldron, an executive search firm with offices in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco, to lead the hunt for a new city administrator.
In January, Councilman Don Chaney called the position “the most important hire in our city right now.”
Youngest city council member elected in Greensboro
Before moving to the Pacific Northwest to take a job as the property and business development manager for the city of Portland’s Parks and Recreation Department, Fox worked as an educator, teaching political science classes at his alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University, as well as high school courses in the Guilford County Schools district in North Carolina.
Fox also worked for the city of Greensboro in the city manager’s office and the department of planning and community development. In 2013, at the age of 25, Fox was the youngest person to be elected to the Greensboro City Council. He was re-elected to the council in 2017, but resigned halfway through his second term to move to Portland with his wife, Jaimee.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced in May 2019 that he had named Fox his deputy chief of staff.
Fox told McDonnell in the YouTube video that he and his wife are looking forward to moving to Camas with their 14-month-old son.
“Camas is poised for great things,” Fox said. “It has a great history, great parks … great people and infrastructure. And the school system is great. I keep hearing that more and more.”
The fact that the city constantly ranks as one of Washington’s safest towns also played a role in the family’s decision to relocate there, Fox said.
“We wanted a place to lay our roots and grow our family. Camas was that community,” he said. “It just had that small-town, family-niche feeling. When you come into the community, talk to the people. It just felt like home.”
Fox said he is driven by three things: his faith, his family and his friends.
“As I look at my son, who is 14 months old, I want to create a community for the next generation that is way better,” Fox said. “I’m really looking forward to mentoring youth in the community and to getting to know a lot of people in the community and in the (city of Camas) organization.”
Fox said he is excited to help strengthen and grow the city in a way that fits the community’s needs.
“As we bring people together to talk about the future and where we can go as a community, (I want to) make sure we have one voice, one vision, as one community,” Fox said.
To see the full video posted to the city’s YouTube channel, visit https://bit.ly/3fNMKKq.
This is a developing story. Look for more details and updates in this week’s issue of the Post-Record, which publishes on Thursday, July 23.