Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Oakridge City Council picks veteran administrator from Portland to serve in temporary position

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By DEAN REA/Editor/The Herald — A Portland man with more than 25 years of city managerial experience was chosen Thursday night as Oakridge’s interim city administrator.

The City Council announced its decision to hire Kevin A. Cronin after meeting several times in executive session to evaluate the applications of five people who sought to fill the office that Bryan Cutchen has held since July15, 2019. His resignation will be effective Monday.

Among the applicants were James Cleavenger, an Oakridge police officer, and Paula Brown, a consultant who lives in Westfir.

Councilors were unanimous in endorsing the hiring of Cronin.

“He comes to us with many years of experience, not only as a city administrator but also working on multiple projects that will be helpful to Oakridge and in finding a permanent administrator,” Mayor Christina Hollett said after the seven-minute meeting that followed an executive session.

“We have a sincere gratitude to Bryan Cutchen,” the mayor added. “He’s done a lot of amazing things for Oakridge.”

“I’m excited to be working with Oakridge as the interim city administrator,” Cronin said during a telephone interview after the council meeting.

Cronin does not plan to move to Oakridge during his four-month tenure while working at the City Hall from Tuesday through Thursday and remotely from Portland either Monday or Friday.

“I’m a single parent with three children and my business is working as an interim city manager.”

When asked how he deals with the challenge of working with city council members who may not understand or who may criticize how he carries out responsibilities as an administrator, he replied:

“An administrator’s greatest challenge while working with city council members is to create a level playing field. You try to educate each member so that we’re reading from the same playbook. I focus on education and training, and I advocate on behalf of council members on issues and policies that we’re trying to achieve.”

Cronin said he and budget committee members must begin creating a 2022-23 city budget starting next week when he begins working at City Hall.

“I’m pretty good at that,” he said.

Cronin most recently served as interim city manager in Lakeside. Previously he served as city manager for Mt. Angel, where he said he “helped rebuild the organization and to reposition it for growth.” In 2019-20 he was the assistant city manager in Warrenton. In October 2017 he founded and has continued to operate a Portland consulting firm that specializes in land use, real estate and project management services.

In his letter of application, Cronin wrote: “I have a diverse educational background in environmental studies, city planning and real estate development through the Pennsylvania State University, University of Oregon and Portland State University.

“I have completed many courses from real estate development principles, project management, urban design and city planning. An interim position at the City of Oakridge is a great opportunity to continue my consulting business and provide a great service to a small town until a permanent solution is secured.”

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