BAKER CITY — Baker City residents on Thursday, Nov. 12, had the opportunity to talk with the three three finalists for the Baker City manager job.
Steve Ashworth, Scott McClure and Jonathan Cannon were at the Baker Tower and Crossroads Carnegie Art Center.
Ashworth traveled from Alpine, Wyoming, McClure from Monmouth, and Cannon from Saluda, North Carolina.
The three arrived in Baker City Nov. 11, and the following each had individual tours of city facilities, including the police and fire departments, said Robin Nudd, the city’s human resources director.
Ashworth said he is interested in the job for several reasons, one of them a personal link to Baker City.
“My wife and I have a connection with the city of Baker,” he said. “Her grandmother lived here, and she grew up visiting her grandmother in the city of Baker and we’ve always loved the area.”
Ashworth said they always talked about moving to Baker City after their children were out of school, and the city manager position holds significant interest for him.
“It’s about being able to help a community, be part of a community,” he said, “and help strengthen the community. and that’s something that’s very important to me.”
Ashworth has worked in the public sector for most of his career. He has been employed as the director of parks and recreation at Jackson, Wyoming, since November 2009. He said he and his wife had visited Baker in the summer about three weeks before the job announcement came out.
“We love the community, we love the historical character, and we also like the small town kind of comfort of the community,” Ashworth said.
McClure said he is impressed by the city and likes its size.
“I’m very familiar with the size of Baker City staff,” he said. “Very full service, I like that. I like having a lot of services to play with. It’s a nice community; all the history buildings are pretty amazing. I like the neighborhoods, especially the ones where people have really taken care of the historic homes.”
McClure, a lifelong Oregonian who has served as city administrator in Canby and city manager in Monmouth, said he would like to stay in the state.
Cannon, who has family in Boise, works as the city manager of Saluda, North Carolina, population about 700. He said the area there is growing.
“My family and I said maybe we need to find somewhere that’s more rural like we remember growing up,” Cannon said. “Baker City, I saw it on the (International City Managers Association) website and thought ‘wow, that looks like a really nice place’. And so, I took a chance and applied and started researching the city, and just find it charming.”
Cannon has enjoyed his time in Baker City.
“It’s fantastic. It’s amazing how beautiful the mountains are right up here against the city,” he said.
Mayor Loran Joseph said the city council will solicit impressions from the councilors-elect and from other residents who met the candidates. The council soon will have an executive session meeting and figure out how to proceed.