The City of Mountlake Terrace has seen one city manager and three department heads either retire or resign from their posts over the past 10 months. But the departures are not seen as a concern for the city’s newly-hired City Manager Arlene Fisher.
Fisher took over the top administrative post for the city on March 3, six months after former city manager John Caulfield resigned to take a similar position with the City of Lakewood (Pierce County). After almost two full weeks in the office, Fisher evaluated recent changes in department head personnel.
The directors of two city departments, Engineering Services and Recreation & Parks, both resigned in 2013, something Fisher sees simply as a coincidence. “It was just that time in their lives and in their careers,” she said, noting that the former Recreation & Parks Director had been with the city 24 years, while the Engineering Services Director had served for almost 40 years.
On Wednesday the city announced that Shane Hope, the Community and Economic Development Director, would be leaving her position on April 2 to accept a similar post with the City of Edmonds. “That’s a tremendous loss for us,” Fisher admitted, “and a tremendous gain for Edmonds.”
While the loss of long-serving city directors is significant, Fisher also sees this particular time at city hall a chance for others to grow and contribute in new ways. “The changes are an opportunity for people interested in rising to come to the forefront,” she explained.
Following the resignation of the Recreation & Parks Director last May, the city did shift around some department director responsibilities as opposed to simply promoting or hiring someone into the vacant office. Fisher didn’t say if there would be changes in job responsibilities after Hope leaves, but didn’t rule out the possibility.
“Scott (Hugill, Assistant City Manager) and I will take a look at the whole organizational chart,” she said. “I’m very inclusive in decision-making.”
After two weeks on the job, Fisher expressed how impressed she is with the professionalism and the160 full- and part-time city employees. “I know I’ve inherited a great team,” she concluded. “There’s some wonderful people here.”
— Story and photo by Doug Petrowski