Snohomish city official resigns

By Leslie Moriarty

Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — City Manager Bill McDonald will leave his job Oct. 31.

McDonald, who submitted his resignation to the city council this week, plans to pursue additional education and training opportunities.

McDonald has been city manager of the town of about 9,000 residents for 4 1/2years.

"Bill will be missed for the leadership and strong vision he provided for this community," Mayor Doug Thorndike said Thursday.

McDonald said he recently began to feel it was the right time to move on. He is going to get training in the Carver Governance Design in Atlanta, Ga. After that, he plans to "end up back in local government."

Although the announcement caught some people off guard, Thorndike said the resignation is a "very smooth and friendly transition."

"There are no performance issues involved here," he said. "The council has no issues that go along with this in any way. This is just something that suits Bill’s career choices at this time."

McDonald came to Snohomish from Columbia County, Oregon, where he was a commissioner for two years. Before that he was city manager in Clatskanie, Ore., for 10 years.

Thorndike credits McDonald with a number of accomplishments.

McDonald was instrumental in the city’s efforts to get a regional library and helped secure more than $2 million in grant funding for the city’s Riverfront Trail, the mayor said.

He also helped improve access to City Hall for residents through use of "e-government" tools, including the creation of a city Web site. Additionally, he is credited with leading steps toward construction of a major sewer trunkline to serve the city’s urban growth area.

McDonald, 55, leaves Snohomish making $85,000 a year.

He said he is most proud of "rebuilding the organization."

"I’ve been able to help bring good people (city employees and department heads) to lead this city," he said. "The place was pretty fractured when I got here."

Councilwoman Liz Loomis acknowledged McDonald’s strong leadership.

"Bill drove this organization to meet the demands of the feds and state and the local community," Loomis said. "He has left the council in a strong position to continue the progress we have made thanks to his ability and leadership."

Former Mayor Jeff Soth, now a resident of Washington, D.C., called McDonald "a real asset to the Snohomish community."

"I am sorry to see him go," Soth said. "He did a lot for the internal health of the city."

Soth was on the council six years and served as mayor for four. He was mayor when McDonald was hired.

The Carver model, which McDonald will now study, is used in a number of cities as well as public utilities and private companies as a way of forming relationships on boards and learning to set policy.

McDonald said he recommended to Thorndike that the council contract with a professional search organization to find an interim city manager. A full-scale search for a permanent city manager is expected to follow that.

Thorndike said he and several council members soon will meet to find out what is involved in beginning both searches.

"My feeling is that regarding a permanent city manager, the council is not in a hurry," he said. "We want to be very deliberate and follow a good process."

You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436

or send e-mail to moriarty@heraldnet.com.

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