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City attorney search ends a block from city hall

Government — Hiring committee will propose the council hire Truman Stone to succeed retiring Terry Mahr in October


As a shareholder in Newberg-based law firm Brown Tarlow Bridges Palmer & Stone, local attorney Truman Stone has been quite happy with the job he’s held for the past 10 years.

But from the 15 years he’s lived in the area to the numerous board positions he’s filled, including his current responsibilities as a George Fox University trustee and a Camp Tillikum advisor, Stone has been equally, if not more, invested in serving community where he works in a public capacity.

Because it fit so well with his skills and belief in public service, he had to consider throwing his name in the hat for Newberg city attorney earlier this summer before agreeing Aug. 30 to succeed the retiring Terry Mahr.Truman Stone

“Terry’s done a really good job for the city,” Stone said. “It’s important to have good legal advice for the city to keep the community moving forward in the right direction. I thought I could provide that service.”

The city’s hiring committee, which included Mayor Bob Andrews and Mahr, will recommend the council hire Stone, effective Oct. 7, with an official proposal at its upcoming meeting Sept. 17.

“I think Truman’s going to be an outstanding city attorney,” Mahr said. “I think the council is really on the right track choosing somebody that knows the community, is here in the community and will give them a lot of credibility in the community. Brown Tarlow (Bridges Palmer and Stone) has always been an outstanding firm and it’s an honor that he would consider the city attorney position.”

A Dundee resident, Stone graduated with a bachelor’s in history from Bethel College (now Bethel University) in 1989 and received a law degree from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in 1992.

Stone has a broad range of experience in private practice, which he said he believes will be a great asset considering all the duties one must perform as city attorney. According to his firm’s website, his practice currently centers on: business law; probate, guardian and conservatorship; real estate, mortgages and landlord-tenant cases; construction law; debtor, creditor and collections; and commercial and consumer transactions.

In the public sector, Stone worked for the Oregon Bar Association for one year and served at Legal Aid out of the Hillsboro regional office, which includes Yamhill County in its purview.

He was also an executive committee member of the Consumer Law Section of the Oregon State Bar from 1998 to 2007, including the chairman of the Consumer Law Section in 2004, and co-editor of “Consumer Law in Oregon” in 2005.

In addition to memberships in several local and regional groups, like the Newberg City Club, Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Ford Institute for Community Building Leadership Program (2012), Stone served as chairman of the Dundee Fire Department strategic plan taskforce from 2006 to 2007 and has served as chairman of Dundee’s fire station task force since 2001.

“From all reports from the counsel, staff and such, people are pretty pleased with the way things are going, so my initial philosophy is not to do anything too drastic and goof up a good thing,” Stone said. “Then as I’m there, I’ll look at maybe innovation or areas where we can maybe do things more efficiently.”

The hiring committee interviewed four applicants before choosing Stone as its top choice and his start date of Oct. 7 fits well in terms of Mahr’s exit from city hall. Mahr was appointed city attorney in 1986 and officially retired June 30, but agreed to work on a part-time basis until the end of October to both save the city money and allow for a smooth transition.

Mahr said he plans to continue serving as municipal judge for the cities of Yamhill, Dayton and Willamina, and as pro tem judge in Forest Grove. For the traditional part of his retirement, Mahr intends to spend time traveling the country with his wife to visit and hike various national parks, as well as devote more time to his woodworking and the training of his blue and gold pet macaw.

While Mahr says that Stone will face several challenges right off the bat, like advising the city on hiring the next city manager, and in the long term, navigating how the city adapts to impact of the Newberg-Dundee bypass, at least his successor won’t have to deal with the level of development he did back in 2006 and 2007.

“I found myself running as fast as I could to keep all the developments and contracts and everything in order, but that’s slowed down,” Mahr said. “This is a good time to change the reins.”

Despite all the appeal of the new job, Stone said he has mixed emotions about walking away from his private practice.

“It is somewhat bittersweet,” Stone said. “I’ve enjoyed my time here working with the people in this office.




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