Newberg government — Council will interview five candidates next month to replace Terry Mahr, who is retiring

After more than 26 years of service, Newberg City Attorney Terry Mahr is retiring this year, and the search for his replacement has been narrowed down to five finalists.

According to Dawn Wilson, the city’s human resources manager, the five candidates — whose names the city has declined to release — are scheduled to be interviewed by the City Council in executive session Aug. 26. Wilson, Mahr and City Manager Dan Danicic will be part of the interview panel.

Wilson said if all goes as planned, the city hopes to have its new city attorney on board in October. Until then, Mahr has agreed to a personal services contract wherein he continues to act as municipal prosecutor and perform the other essential functions of the office, albeit on a more limited hourly basis.

Mayor Bob Andrews said the city attorney recruitment committee — consisting of himself, City Councilors Bart Rierson and Stephen McKinney, Danicic, Mahr and Wilson — received only 17 applications when the opening was posted in June, but he opined that the city was probably lucky to have gotten that many.

“We were actually surprised by the goodly number,” Andrews said. “Because there were other entities around the state that were recruiting at the same time, and they did not get that many.”

Nancy Boyer, executive director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, served as an outside consultant in the city’s search. Wilson said the city is now performing background checks on the five finalists in preparation for the interviews next month.

The city attorney provides a full range of legal services to the city, including general counsel, liability defense, misdemeanor prosecution and advisement on public sector legal issues, including meetings and records, elections, land use, labor and employment law, financing, budget law, purchasing and procurement, real estate transactions and intergovernmental agreements. The attorney’s office also drafts and reviews ordinances, resolutions, contracts and other legal documents to ensure compliance with local, state and federal law.

The city’s posting for the position required a law degree, license to practice law in Oregon and a minimum of three years’ experience as a professional attorney. Listed as “desired” qualifications were that the successful candidate have experience in the practice of municipal or local government law, land use law, elections law and employment law, as well as prosecutorial experience.

But, “any combination of education, experience and training which provides the required knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the essential functions of city attorney may be considered,” the listing read in part.

The posting also expressed a preference that the city attorney live in Newberg. The successful candidate must ultimately receive a majority vote of the council to be appointed to the post.

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