Boone selected as assistant to city manager

Former City Councilor Jake Boone was selected today to fill the role of the newly-created Assistant to the City Manager position.

Boone accepted the offer and will begin the job on Monday (March 15).

“I'm obviously very happy about it,” said Boone. “This is kind of my dream job. I've wanted to get into this local government stuff professionally for a long time, which is why I went back to school to get my bachelor's and my master's in it.”

Boone has a bachelor’s in planning public policy and management from the University of Oregon and continued on to get a master’s in public administration, which he obtained last spring.

He stepped down from his 10-year position on the city council last month to pursue the assistant position.

The final selection was made by City Manager Richard Meyers today at the end of a screening process that began in early February.

The process began with 27 applicants, several from other states and from a variety of backgrounds.

Applicants were awarded scores based on seven qualities: decision making and problem solving; organization and planning; written communication; oral communication; interpersonal relations; supervision and leadership; and composure and stress tolerance.

In the first round of screening, the list was trimmed down to 10 candidates based on application forms, letters of reference and meeting minimum requirements.

As one applicant dropped out, a short list of nine candidates were then given four assignments, which included tasks such as analyzing and solving real Cottage Grove issues and writing a press release.

The work was judged by a six-member panel including Meyers, City of Cottage Grove department heads and Wes Hare, a former city manager who has served the cities of Oakridge, La Grande and Albany.

Meyers said that this second screening round was done blindly.

Following Boone’s resignation from his city council position and announcement of his intent to apply for the assistant position, some Cottage Grove residents speculated that favoritism could compromise the integrity of the selection to Boone’s advantage.

To ensure a selection based on merit, Meyers said information which could indicate the identity of the candidates was blacked out by someone outside the panel and the anonymized work was handed to the panel for judgement.

Through this process, candidates were then reduced to a final three: a Cottage Grove resident who works as a senior planner in Springfield; a court clerk from Utah; and Boone. Meyers said he conducted “grueling” 38-question interviews which factored into the scoring of candidates’ composure and stress tolerance.

The final scores were extremely close, Meyers noted, but Boone’s breadth of experience in areas such as the League of Oregon Cities (LOC) placed him above the others.

As well as serving as treasurer, vice president and president of the LOC, Boone has also represented the city on the boards of the Cottage Grove Community Foundation, the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency, the Cottage Grove Community Development Corporation, the Lane Area Commission on Transportation, and on both the General Government and the Finance and Taxation policy committees for the LOC.

In the Cottage Grove City Council, Boone was elected by the council as council president in 2017 and was selected to continue as council president in 2019.

As first orders of business on Monday in his new role, Boone will be put to work on negotiations of franchise agreements with internet providers Charter Spectrum and CenturyLink and tasked with putting together accessible information on the city’s website regarding water, stormwater and sewer infrastructure.

Other proximate assignments will include looking at transportation issues, researching human resources programs, organizing the reopening of the Cottage Grove Community Center and making regular online updates to issues of city interest.

“I'm really looking forward to trying to help with the city's communications efforts,” said Boone, pointing to a need for residents to have a place where questions can readily be answered. “I think this will be a useful addition to what the city has to offer for its residents.”

Boone is beginning his position at the bottom of the city’s pay range, which is $6,206 per month. He will be under a six-month probationary period, meaning he can be let go if he underperforms.

Other applicants from the pool may be tapped for future city jobs as well, said Meyers.

“Because we have some staff retiring at the end of this year and as a result of going through these applications, we have a few people – some of them are local – that we've actually encouraged and said, ‘Hey, watch for this job, this is going to be coming open later,’” he said.

Mayor Jeff Gowing reacted to Boone’s appointment today and said he was pleased with the result.

“I'm excited about it,” he said. “I think it's going to be a really good fit, just because the council knows him, so there's not really a learning curve. … The roles are different and the work relationship is different, but the respect and appreciation of each other is there, so it's going to be a smooth transition.”

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