Rich Carson hired as interim city manager in Cascade Locks

March 9, 2011

Rich Carson, who has more than 30 years' experience in local government, started work Monday as interim administrator for the City of Cascade Locks.

Carson, 63, lives in Hockinson, Wash., a rural community in Clark County.

"I think we're extremely fortunate to get someone of his caliber and experience," Mayor George Fischer said. "He's very well-qualified, he understands budget and how to get things in order and I think he's the man to do the job for us."

The city will pay Carson $7,500 per month. He was selected from three candidates interviewed after referral from the League of Oregon Cities.

The city needed to find an interim after the Jan. 31 departure of former administrator Bernard Seeger, who reached a separation agreement with the city in December 2010.

Carson will work until a permanent administrator is hired, which Fischer said he expects to take four months or more. "It could be longer. It just depends on how the search goes and candidates for filing for the job," Fischer said.

City council unanimously approved his contract last week. Carson is now responsible for overseeing all city departments. One of his main responsibilities will be to come up with a plan to search for and hire a new administrator.

On his first day on the job, Carson delved into "a stack of documents," he said, starting with "where are we in the budget," and scheduled a meeting with the regional housing authority, to discuss scope and responsibility for a planned 13-unit affordable housing unit to be placed in Cascade Locks.

Carson worked for nine years as Director of Community Development with Clark County and was planning director for Metro, the tri-county planning agency based in Portland. He did similar work as assistant city manager for four years in Oregon City.

The proposed Nestlé bottling project and the Warm Springs casino issue are two issues he said will dominate his schedule.

"I am not for or against (the casino) but it is interesting to me because almost the first day I started in Clark County there was the proposal by the Cowlitz," he said, noting that the Warm Springs gaming facility would be in direct competition, with the same driving time from Portland as the Cowlitz facility.

"So it will be really interesting to participate in this," he said.

For the past three years, Carson has served as senior associate with the Sacramento-based Citygate Associates, which provides consulting services to local governments.

"I did organizational development work to help local governments be more cost-effective," Carson said. He worked in Solano, Sacramento and San Diego counties, as well as in West Linn.

Carson served with the State Economic Development Office in the 1970s and 1980s under former governors Vic Atiyeh and Neil Goldschmidt and for a portion of the Barbara Roberts administration.

"Part of the reason I liked working in Oregon City and I like working here, is I am a descendant of Kit Carson," whose Oregon Trail expeditions took him west.

"My interest in the region, especially in the Gorge, has been a personal one," Carson said.

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