Camas search for city administrator continues

Top candidate turns down city’s offer, accepts Shoreline job

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Camas city administrator applicant Bristol Ellington (right) talks to Camas Mayor Steve Hogan (center) and Camas City Councilmember Tim Hein (left) during an open house to meet the city's top two city administrator candidates on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files)

The search for Camas’ next city administrator continues.

Camas Mayor Steve Hogan announced last week that the city’s top two picks for the lead city staff position — Bristol Ellington, the deputy city manager and chief operating officer for the city of Henderson, Nevada, and Robert Pickels, a former Arizona city attorney and county administrator — had not panned out.

Ellington rejected the city’s offer in favor of a city manager position with the city of Shoreline, Washington, near Seattle, and Hogan said Pickels told the mayor he had decided he liked retirement too much to return to a full-time city management job.

“While it’s unfortunate the position was not filled, it will remain open, and candidates will be reviewed continuously as Camas continues to search for the city’s next administrator,” the city stated on its website.

The city has been without a permanent city administrator since May 2021, when then City Administrator Jamal Fox quit unexpectedly, less than one year into his role.

The Camas City Council approved an interim city administrator contract with former Battle Ground City Manager Jeff Swanson in July 2021.

In early 2022, hired Raftelis, an Ohio-based recruitment firm, to lead a nationwide search for a permanent city administrator. Two months later, on April 28, Hogan announced that city officials and Raftelis consultants had whittled a list of 34 city administrator applicants down to four top candidates.

City officials and community members met with those candidates — which included two city managers, an assistant city manager for the city of Olympia and a community services administrator and library system director from Scottsdale, Arizona — during an open house on May 12, but Hogan decided to continue his search, saying that while all four candidates possessed strengths, none were a perfect fit for the city of Camas.

Instead, the mayor said, he wanted to continue to search for an applicant with stronger city management experience, who could help guide Camas through a period of growth and urgent infrastructure needs.

The Camas City Council voted June 6, to increase the city administrator salary range by 4%, to a range of $173,000 to $205,000 per year.

Hogan asked Raftelis to keep the job search open, alter the job title to attract applicants with more city manager experience and adjust the salary range to reflect the higher compensation.

The city’s interim city administrator contract with Swanson is set to expire in December 2022. Hogan told The Post-Record last week that he hopes Swanson — who runs a consultancy and has said he is not interested in being considered for Camas’ permanent city administrator position — will continue to work with the city on certain projects, including discussions about the fate of the Camas-Washougal Fire Department merger and the possibility that the city may soon ask voters to approve a regional fire authority.