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Interim city manager resigns

City Manager pro tem Adam Hanks will resign his post effective Aug. 6. Tidings file photo

Ashland City Manager pro tem Adam Hanks announced Wednesday he will resign his post effective Aug. 6.

The announcement comes amid City Attorney David Lohman’s planned retirement July 1 and an ongoing search for the next city manager, the parameters of which have occupied the City Council for several months in an effort to resolve administrative vulnerability.

Hanks started working as a temporary city clerk his freshman year at Southern Oregon University and remained with the city for the next 30 years in various positions leading up to assuming the role of city administrator and city manager pro tem.

“I intend to work diligently between now and my final day with the city to put the organization, council, our community partners and the community itself in the best possible position to decide how best to proceed under new leadership to address the city’s essential obligations and the citizens’ desires,” Hanks wrote in his resignation letter. “This organization has been a literal second family to me.”

Hanks confirmed his intention to resign, but declined to give further information about the timing and reason.

Mayor Julie Akins said that during his service, Hanks “made many friends and performed ably.” The city’s human resource department has been directed to consider internal candidates for the interim position, and the council will convene to decide upon a course of action soon, she said.

“Meantime, the search continues for a city manager and now must go into high gear,” Akins said. “I feel confident the Ashland City Council will find the best person for the position, which residents tasked it to hire.”

During a special meeting May 13, the council voted to suspend city manager recruitment until Aug. 1 to investigate why two recruitment firms severed their contracts with the city.

According to Human Resource Director Tina Gray, Peckham & McKenney withdrew due to legitimate professional concerns, including failure to consider Hanks for the permanent post and historically high turnover in the city administrator position, which together presented too much of a risk for the firm, Gray said.

Wendi Brown, president of the second firm to back out, said her ethics were impugned during her time working with the city.

Councilor Paula Hyatt said the withdrawal of both firms was a “sobering” indication the city needed to “look internally, examine our interactions with contractors, staff, and find constructive ways” to recruit the next city manager.

The council first publicly considered Hanks for the permanent position May 18, when Councilor Gina DuQuenne asked the council to reconsider its decision to delay the search and allow Hanks to apply.

DuQuenne and Councilor Shaun Moran voted in favor of reconsideration, but the motion failed 4-2. The vote signified the beginning of a trend that continued through the council’s Tuesday business meeting — pitting two against four in many votes.

“This resignation can be laid squarely at the feet of our mayor and two councilors, who have demonstrated a stunning level of dishonesty, personal attacks and inability to come close to anything resembling responsible municipal governance,” said Councilor Stephen Jensen. “Having the city attorney resign because of this kind of behavior was tragic in itself — to have both the city attorney and a very able city manager resign is beyond understanding.”

Akins said she and Hanks worked together fairly well tackling issues facing the city amid a pandemic and climate crisis, and maintained she did not receive any indication she was at fault for his decision to resign.

Contact Ashland Tidings reporter Allayana Darrow at adarrow@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497.