Describing him as “well qualified” but also “willing to step up,” Spokane Valley City Council members unanimously agreed for Mike Jackson to continue on as acting city manager on Tuesday night.
A formal contract still needs to be drawn up and signed, however, and the move doesn’t preclude the council from continuing to search for someone else to fill the role. Council members indicated they would likely prefer the city’s human resource department to conduct its own search rather than contracting with a larger headhunting agency.
Jackson – who has been with the city since 2003, first as the director of parks and recreation and then promoted to deputy city manager in 2007 – would be welcome to apply for the job. City staff members added, though, there is no rush now that Jackson has officially been named to the role.
“There’s no urgency,” Mike Connelly, city attorney, told council members.
“It’s something to discuss and to determine which way you want to go.”
By state law, an appointment of city manager had to be chosen by the council by Feb. 5. That’s when former City Manager David Mercier’s position would officially become vacant. Mercier was asked to resign by the council, weighted with four “Positive Change” candidates elected last November, on Jan. 5 in an effort to move “in another direction,” according to Mayor Tom Towey. At that time, Jackson was given the duties of acting city manager.
There was no mention by council members whether or not a search will be conducted for a new deputy city manager. That cost, plus whatever new salary is negotiated for Jackson will be added to the year’s pay and benefits – over $175,000 – that the city still owes Mercier, per his contract.
Jackson replaced Nina Regor, who left to accept a position of city manager in Coverdale, Calif., in December 2007. At the time, Mercier described Jackson’s service as “exemplary” and his emphasis on customer service and program improvement “serve the community well.”
As parks director, Jackson led the work to develop a Parks and Recreation Master Plan, assisted in negotiations with the city employees union, and routinely acted as city manager in the absence of Mercier and Regor.
Jackson had more than 25 years of experience in directing parks, library and recreation in Sterling, Colo., and as a Utah state parks superintendent. He holds a degree in recreation resource management from Utah State University and has a master’s degree in management from Regis University.
Council Member Rose Dempsey, who was against the dismissal of Mercier, said her colleagues were making the right choice.
“I’m happy that Mike Jackson is willing to step up,” she said. “I’m happy he’s willing to take us on.”
Deputy Mayor Gary Schimmels – who did vote for Mercier to step down – said that Jackson is “well qualified and quite tight-lipped…a good quality in a position like that.”
In other action, the council tentatively agreed not to pursue negotiations with the owners of University City in order to purchase land for a new City Hall. Those plans were integral to the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan, which the majority of the council members have indicated they would like to overhaul in coming months.
A formal resolution, however, will have to be taken at an upcoming meeting.