Karlinsey to succeed Stouder as Kenmore's city manager

Robert Karlinsey - Courtesy photo
Robert Karlinsey
— image credit: Courtesy photo

When Robert Karlinsey showed up for his interview for Kenmore’s city manager job, he had a big notebook in his hand containing research he’d done on the city.

The issues of economic development, State Route 522 funding, stormwater and a downtown core will be firmly in his mind when he takes over his new job on April 23. Following a nationwide search, the city hired Karlinsey on Feb. 23; he will succeed Fred Stouder, who will retire in April after serving as the city manager since 2008.

“There’s so much potential for the city, for the waterfront, for the downtown,” Karlinsey said.

Karlinsey, 43, is currently the city administrator of Gig Harbor, where he has served since January 2007. He has more than 17 years of local government experience, is a Western Washington native and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Brigham Young University. He is married and has five children — three boys and two girls. He also serves as scoutmaster for a Gig Harbor Boy Scout troop, and last Friday they dug out snow caves at Mount Rainier’s Paradise Park and spent the night in them.

“My long-term goal was to be a city manager (in King County). Kenmore is three times the population of Gig Harbor, so it’s a logical step in my career,” he said. The 2010 census listed Gig Harbor with 7,126 residents; Kenmore is listed at 20,460.

Mayor David Baker said that Karlinsey has given the city a five-year commitment and is ready to tackle a host of Kenmore projects, including the long-delayed plan of transforming Kenmore Village into a downtown core. Baker has said that a struggling economy has detained that project.

“He is absolutely prepared for this. We have a lot of confidence in him in that area, because of all the redevelopment work he’s done in Gig Harbor,” Baker said. “He’s led Gig Harbor and their waterfront through a series of redevelopments. We were just very impressed with his enthusiasm.”

Karlinsey, who will earn an annual salary of $141,500, said that he’s met some of Kenmore’s residents and feels that it’s a “supportive, engaged community.”

“We are very pleased to take this important step as a city. Mr. Karlinsey is well prepared to lead the implementation of the City Council’s priorities,” said Baker.

There were 55 applicants for the position — including hopefuls from Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico — and the interview process included members of the community and department directors, in addition to the City Council. They narrowed down their search to five and then hired Karlinsey.

Other finalists were:

Andrew Barton, town administrator for New Castle, Colo.; Ronald Chandler, Cedar City, Utah, resident who was most recently city manager for that city; Deborah Knight, city administrator for Sultan, Wash.; Henry Lawrence, city Manager for Ontario, Ore.

“The City Council and I want to express our deep appreciation for the tireless dedication of our city manager, Fred Stouder, and all of our department heads and staff during the transition,” added Baker.

Stouder, whose annual salary is $142,308, has been on leave for several weeks because of family matters, and Assistant City Manager Nancy Ousley has been assuming his duties.

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