(Editor’s note: This story was revised July 24)
Kenmore City Manager Steve Anderson will be leaving his post Aug. 11 to serve as Bothell’s new deputy manager.
The city of Bothell actively pursued the 25-year government-affairs veteran during a head-hunting process that followed the retirement of its former assistant city manager, Manny Ocampo, last March.
“The more I learned about (the position), the more I saw it as an opportunity,” Anderson said.
“Bothell’s a great city with a lot of exciting things happening.”
Word of Anderson’s pending departure came around the same time that Kenmore City Engineer Rob English announced he, too, was leaving, in his case for a job with the city of Edmonds.
News of this two-person exodus prompted fears of municipal chaos from some locals.
Kenmore resident Carl Michelman commented to The Reporter that “the ship’s sinking,” and that the Kenmore Village mixed-use development appears to be “going south” from an outsider’s perspective.
He brought similar concerns to the City Council at its July 14 meeting.
Anderson claims there is nothing to worry about.
“I think the city’s in good shape,” he said. “There are good projects going on with good project managers. It’s a great staff that’s left, and I have a lot of confidence that what the council wants to get done will get done.”
Added Kenmore Assistant City Manager Nancy Ousley: “The city has always been very agile in making sure projects and initiatives keep moving forward, even when the actors change.
“There are very dedicated, experienced, capable people here. We’ll make sure things continue to move forward.”
City Council was scheduled to select a head-hunting firm July 21 that will recruit an interim city manager.
Ousley will assume the responsibilities of that position until the council finds a replacement.
“Staff is ramped up enough to take care of things until then,” Anderson said. “They know what’s going on with projects and the day-to-day business.”
The annual salary for Bothell’s deputy city manager ranges from $104,700 to $132,816, less than the $134,589 Anderson currently makes with Kenmore. Duties for the role include oversight of the community-development and public-works divisions, and working with the police and fire departments.
Anderson became Kenmore’s first city manager in 1998, following a citizen vote to incorporate from King County.
“When I started, we had nothing,” he said. “We started out of the trunks of our cars. Ten years later, a lot’s happened.”
Anderson oversaw Kenmore’s $52 million budget and was at the helm during its downtown and comprehensive planning processes. He also orchestrated a land-acquisition deal that gave the city 10 acres of property for the planned Kenmore Village by the Lake mixed-use development project.
Kenmore Councilmember John Hendrickson often accused Anderson of being forceful, manipulative and dishonest with City Council.
“Steve Anderson has a very aggressive executive style that has dominated the financial planning and policy making in our community for the last 10 years,” he said.
None of the other councilmembers have supported Hendrickson’s attacks.
“That’s John’s right to say what he thinks,” Anderson said. “Of course, I disagree with him.
“I think the council is independent of the city manager. I don’t think they look to me on how they’re going to vote. In fact, I credit the council for implementing policy direction. Any success we’ve had is due to them.”