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'There is no winner'

Mayor Gary Wheeler's veto of the hiring of Rob Patridge as Medford city manager withstood the challenge Thursday with all eight council members digging in their heels.

The override vote of 5-3 fell short of the 6-2 majority needed, with the same trio opposed to Patridge's hiring — Kevin Stine, Daniel Bunn and Clay Bearnson — voting no.

That left the council to look to Jon Amundson, assistant city manager in Richland, Wash., one of three finalists in the yearlong search. Pending Amundson's response, the council may have to start its search anew to replace Eric Swanson, who was fired 14 months ago.

"There is no winner here," Stine said prior to the roll call. "We've spent a very long time — the first week of June (2015) is when we created the opening, and it's now the first week of August, and we will still not fill the slot. So while I'm coming out ahead, I think we're all losers in this situation."

The council's vote ended a four-month emotional roller-coaster ride for Patridge, Klamath County's district attorney, who viewed the council's action online from his office.

"I'm deeply disappointed, but this is all part of the process," Patridge said. "I was asked and encouraged to apply, it was not something I was looking for. I thoroughly enjoy being the district attorney of Klamath County. I'm glad the process is over."

Patridge has been on both sides of the equation, as part of the council that hired Mike Dyal as city manager in 1998.

"I'm not going to second-guess the council, I've been there and done that," he said. "It's easy to be an armchair quarterback. I was honored to be a finalist and selected by a majority of the council."

Tim Jackle, who joined Council President Dick Gordon, Chris Corcoran, Eli Matthews and Michael Zarosinski in voting for Patridge, said it was a missed opportunity.

"Rob is a remarkable guy with a diversity of experience," Jackle said. "Whether or not somebody is qualified ultimately comes down to subjectivity. It ultimately comes down to a choice. I can't tell the people who voted no for Mr. Patridge that they are absolutely wrong because they have valid points for their reasons, but we have valid points for our reasons."

Following the vote, the council dealt with two short-term questions and perhaps faces a long-term dilemma.

The council voted to retain Waters & Company of Texas, which conducted the original search. The council directed staff to contact Amundson to see whether he was still interested in the position and agreed to hold a study session on the issue Monday.

"I found, and others may have found (Amundson) to be a good candidate," Gordon said.

Wheeler, who vetoed Patridge's hiring July 29 because he believes Medford should not be a training ground for someone with no prior city management experience, agreed.

"We can always check and ask the question and see what answer we get back," Wheeler said. "It may be in our interest, and if we have him (Amundson) as a census candidate, it gives us some room to maneuver."

Jackle said he preferred to address the issue during a study session.

Patridge volunteered to discuss the process privately with council members as they move forward.

"I care deeply about Medford," he said. "I would be happy to talk to anyone related to the process about my experience."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

Clay Bearnson, left, listens as Kevin Stine speaks out against the hiring of Rob Patridge for Medford city manager Thursday during the Medford City Council meeting. Mail Tribune / Denise Baratta