Eric Strahl hired as Cascade Locks city administrator

July 23, 2011

The Cascade Locks City Council voted Monday evening to offer the city manager's job to Eric Strahl of Menominee, Mich., pending an employment contract.

Strahl was chosen for the job over Neil Obringer, of Albany.

Strahl, who has been working in municipal administration since 1980, was most recently city manager of Menominee from 2006-09.

Strahl will succeed Rich Carson, whose contract as acting city administrator expired earlier this month.

Previous City Administrator Bernard Seeger resigned in January after four years on the job, citing a lack of trust in the then incoming and now current city council.

Strahl will step into a position full of challenges. The city is currently caught in a struggle over its fire protection. Following the resignation of Fire Chief Jeff Pricher last month, the city is without an acting chief or paid paramedic.

The city is also in negotiations for a Nestlé bottling plant and is still waiting on a decision from the Department of the Interior regarding a proposed off-reservation casino by the Warm Springs tribe.

Strahl is no stranger to turbulent city politics and also has experience in some of the issues Cascade Locks is struggling with.

He said he previously worked with cities attempting to transition into industrial development and also had previous experience working with communities on water rights.

"I've worked for small or medium-sized communities my whole career," he said. "And most of them are rural or semi-rural."

Cascade Locks Mayor George Fischer said it was Strahl's experience that made him the unanimous choice of the city council.

"They were very close," he said of the two candidates. "He had more experience. I believe the council wanted someone with experience."

Strahl previously worked in Menominee where he balanced the city's budget in part by eliminating the director of public works position and negotiated an agreement to sewer system expansion and treatment facility using private, state and federal monies.

Strahl's contract was terminated by the City of Menominee in April 2009 following a 5-4 vote by the city council.

He previously served as city manager for the town of Hopkinson, R.I., for 10 months in 2003-04 and city manager of Boyne City, Mich., from 1997-2002.

He earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Western Michigan and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan.

Strahl has been a finalist for several positions around the country in recent months, and said the location of the job and moving from his roots east of the Mississippi did not bother him.

"I take a look at the municipality and if I'm interested I put in an application," he said.

He said he wants to bring options to the table to try and deal with the city's issue and will try to present ways to solve them to the council.

"With any type of problem or issue you deal with you have to understand it and come up with as many options as you can," he said.

As he intends to bring his family out from Michigan, Strahl said he is looking for a lasting position.

"I'm looking for a long-term commitment and a fit between my goals and skills and what the council wants to accomplish he said.

Pending an employment agreement, Strahl said he would likely start in about a month, depending on whether he comes out on his own to Cascade Locks or moves his family with him right away.

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