Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Oakridge police officer, Westfir consultant among candidates to replace Cutchen during interim

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By DEAN REA/Editor/The Herald — Oakridge police officer James Cleavenger and Paula Brown, a consultant who lives in Westfir, are two of five candidates for the temporary Oakridge city administrator position being vacated by Bryan Cutchen, who resigned effective Feb. 28.

Council members are expected to begin reviewing the candidate applications as soon as Thursday when the next executive session is scheduled ahead of the 7 p.m. regular meeting.

The city advertised March 1 as the proposed starting date for a position that will assist in selecting a permanent manager. This process was guided by the Lane Council of Governments during the time that Cutchen was selected for the job. Cutchen said “a working relationship lacking trust and respect” led to his decision to resign.

The candidates are:

Kevin A. Cronin

Kevin A. Cronin of Portland, who wrote: “In addition to my strong public sector management and project management experience, I have a unique combination of education, city and strategic planning, community engagement, and economic development and redevelopment experience, and a proven history of getting results for the communities I serve.

“As my enclosed resume indicates, 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, respectively. 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. I have over 25 years of extensive work experience in city planning, community development, and project management with the private sector and a range of public agencies, such as the City of Mt. Angel, City of Warrenton, City of Astoria, Portland Development Commission, City of Sherwood, Department of Land Conservation & Development, and the City of Talent. Most recently, I was the City Manager in Mt. Angel rebuilding the organization and repositioned it for growth.”

Thomas Reber

Thomas Reber of Tacoma, Wash., has a degree in urban and regional studies from Minnesota State University, and has served as city manager for a number of Minnesota cities and has experience managing homeowner associations.

Dale Shaddox

Dale Shaddox of Eagle Point writes that he has extensive experience working in local government in Oregon and in California. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree. Early in his career he was city manager in Brookings and Phoenix, Ore. He later was pro tem city manager in Shady Grove, Talent, Myrtle Creek. His latest experience was interim city manager in Gold Hill, Ore.

Paula Brown

Paula Brown of Westfir has a degree in business administration from Portland State University and is serving a three-year term on the Lane Electric Cooperative’s board of directors.

She wrote: “My resume reflects a career as a certified internal auditor (CIA), which is best described as an internal business consultant rather than an accountant—although a deep understanding of accounting is required to have the professional designation.”

An article that appeared in the cooperative’s newsletter reported that Brown “first experienced the power industry when she took a job as a certified internal auditor and risk management assurance analyst with Bonneville Power Administration in 2008.

“After five years with BPA, Paula moved to Denver and worked for Western Area Power Administration, a federal power marketing agency similar to BPA. Her next position was with Xcel Energy, an investor-owned utility with offices in Denver; Amarillo, Texas; and Minneapolis.

“Paula enjoyed big city life but missed the less hectic rural life she had known in her younger years. She moved back to Oregon in September 2019 and settled in Westfir. She now works remotely as an independent management consultant for Atum Group, a Portland-based company that provides management, scientific and technical consulting services.”

Brown also is a member of Lane County’s Performance Audit Committee that oversees the county auditor’s role. It is a volunteer position.

James Cleavenger

James Cleavenger of Oakridge wrote in his letter of application: “Although I do not have direct experience working as a city administrator, I believe my legal background, prior government experience, grant writing experience, leadership qualities, and the trust I’ve built during my career working as a police officer with the City of Oakridge make me a viable candidate for this position.

“I have attached my resume detailing my prior experience. These are challenging times for our city. I am under no illusions and realize the job of city administrator is not easy, especially during our current financial crisis. It will require a lot of hard work and the ability to make hard decisions.

“But I believe I am up to the task, and I have always been willing to help the city in any capacity. I also realize there would be a steep learning-curve due to my inexperience in this particular position. But I believe I possess the willpower and stamina required to learn quickly in order to be successful.

“That being said, should a far more qualified candidate for the position emerge that the majority of City Council is comfortable with hiring, I may withdraw my application to streamline the process, because in the end I only want what is best for our city.

“Should I be selected for the position, my intent would be to take a leave of absence from the police department so I could perform the full-time duties of city administrator. However, I would remain a part of the police department as an unpaid Reserve Officer to cover some shifts and on-call time, so that the city can maintain 24-hour police services.”

Cleavenger has a law degree from the University of Oregon and holds Oregon and Washington law licenses. He also has attended a number of other universities, including Oxford in England.

Cleavenger lost the Lane County district attorney’s race during the May 19, 2020, primary election to the current DA, Patricia Perlow, 69,903 to 31,497. He earlier prevailed in a $1 million whistleblower case against the University of Oregon where he was hired in 2010, was promoted to a full-time university officer in 2011 and was fired in 2012.

Professionally, he has served as a police officer in Coburg and Junction City and currently has a private law practice. He has been an Oakridge police officer since 2017.

Much of the information in this story was based on applications received by the city of Oakridge and released after a request was filed by the Highway 58 Herald under the state public records law.


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