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Talent ready to offer top job to interim manager

TALENT — The City Council wants its current interim manager to be city government’s permanent leader.

Councilors voted unanimously last week to perform a background check and enter into contract negotiations with Sandra Spelliscy after interviewing three finalists for the post.

Self-described as a “somewhat non-traditional” candidate, Spelliscy has headed environmental groups, served in municipal elected and appointed positions and was an attorney advising state agencies.

“Talent has been waiting a long time for somebody just like her. She has an incredible background, and her interests and skillset fit all of the goals and objectives of the city right now,” said Mayor Darby Ayers-Flood. “It’s a great opportunity for us to move forward.”

Spelliscy was named interim manager in June, succeeding Ryan Martin, who had been interim manager from November 2017 before moving to a position with the city of Medford. Tom Corrigan, now city manager in Shady Cove, held the position from 2012 until November 2017, when he was placed on administrative leave. His employment was terminated in January after the City Council cited misconduct issues.

“I strongly believe in the power of public institutions to create good in people’s lives and that local government is the most important place for innovation and success in the public sector in today’s world,” Spelliscy wrote in her letter of application.

From 2012 to 2014 Spelliscy was executive director of Resources Legacy Fund in Sacramento. She headed The River Exchange, a watershed organization in Siskiyou County, from 2006 to 2010.

Spelliscy served on the Mount Shasta City Council and the town’s Planning Commission. She was also on the Davis, California, Planning Commission. An attorney, Spelliscy was staff counsel to the California Energy Commission and was senior advisor to the state’s Strategic Growth Council. She also worked for the Planning and Conservation League in Sacramento and the National Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C. She has a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Two other candidates, Kelsey Lewis and D. Sam Hughes, were interviewed for the position.

Lewis is an Ashland High School graduate who is currently acting engineering division manager/management analyst II with the City of Tualatin and has been there since 2014. He was assistant to the city administrator in Mount Angel from 2010 to 2014. She (gender corrected from previous version) has a master’s of public administration degree from Portland State University.

Hughes was city administrator North Bonneville, Washington, from February 2017 to January 2018. She (gender corrected from previous version) was human resources manager with Ben Franklin Transit in Richland, Washington, from 2003 to 2015 and holds a master’s degree in policy administration from the University of Washington.

Hiring should be completed by the end of the month, said Ayers-Flood. A decision on whether Spelliscy would assume the Talent Urban Renewal Agency executive director position will not be made until she is hired, said Ayers-Flood. Corrigan held the post previously, and it is now filled on an interim basis by Community Development Director Zac Moody.

The council has had discussions about conducting a work force study and may contact Rogue Valley Council of Governments to do that, said Ayers-Flood. No ideas on how to restructure city government have been formally put forward by the council, she said.

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.