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Council names Rob Wyman as city manager

The City Council hired interim City Manager Rob Wyman as its permanent city manager Aug. 31 by a 6-1 vote with Councilman Sonny Putter dissenting. The decision came after a one-hour executive session discussing the final four candidates for the position with recruiter Greg Prothman.

Wyman’s salary will be $110,000 per year with benefits, and he will not be entitled to severance pay if he is fired from the job. However, he would be entitled to four months severance pay if he relocates to Newcastle, as he lives in Seattle. He also will not receive compensation for his commute, as former City Manager John Starbard had.

Wyman’s final contract will be approved at a council meeting in September.

“His relationship with the community and his management of the city in the last six months has been exemplary,” Councilman Bill Erxleben said. “Rob has done a good job here. He’s a known quantity.”

Other members of the council echoed Erxleben’s sentiment, except Putter — who said Wyman is not qualified — and Councilwoman Carol Simpson.

“He has no experience, he has no training,” Putter said. “I believe that the council is making a big mistake.”

In an interview after the meeting, Putter said Michael Sauerwein, another finalist, was his first choice for the position. Sauerwein worked as the city manager in Sheridan, Ore., for 11 years before taking the position of director of administrative services in Sammamish in 2004.

Simpson also said Sauerwein was her first choice. She said she was uncomfortable with how Wyman was hired in January and that Sauerwein was a good choice given his strong management, administrative and human resource skills. However, Simpson agreed to vote for Wyman given strong support from the rest of the council.

Wyman was not present during the meeting, but he expressed his excitement in a phone interview afterward.

“I look forward to getting back to work,” he said. “It’s something I’m definitely very happy about.”

Wyman was appointed as interim city manager Jan. 12, the same night previous City Manager John Starbard was fired. He had worked for the city from 1998-2006, working his way from associate planner to community development director.

After leaving Newcastle in 2006, Wyman started RTW Associates, a consulting firm specializing in commercial real estate, but he halted his work when he was appointed as interim city manager.

Wyman has a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry at Syracuse University and a master’s in land use planning from the University of Arizona.

The other finalists were former Lakeport, Calif., City Manager Garold Gillham, former Gig Harbor City Administrator Mark Hoppen and Sauerwein.

The City Council and an 11-person citizen panel interviewed the final candidates Aug. 16, but the council was unable to reach a decision that day.

The city worked with recruiter Prothman and his company, Prothman and Associates, during the hiring process. The city received 65 applicants from 11 different states. The final cost to the city for the search will be between $20,000 and $22,000, Mayor John Dulcich estimated.

Printed in Newcastle News Sept. 3, 2010

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