He's barely started and already he's in Central Oregon representing Tigard at a statewide conference.
Eric Zimmerman, Tigard's new assistant city manager, spoke with The Times by phone while on his way Tuesday morning, July 11, to a meeting of the Oregon City/County Management Association in Bend. He said he is "really pretty thrilled to be starting" his work in Tigard.
"I think that having a very broad level of experience is going to serve me well at the city," said Zimmerman, mentioning both his service as an engineering officer in the Oregon Army National Guard and his time as chief of staff to former Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel.
Zimmerman started his first full week as assistant city manager in Tigard on Monday, July 10, he told The Times. His hiring was announced late Monday afternoon.
Zimmerman's path has been a somewhat unconventional one. Now a captain in the U.S. Army, he was deployed for a tour of duty in Iraq in 2009. After working for Multnomah County since 2007, with interruptions for active military service, he became chief of staff to McKeel in 2013 and served in that role until the end of her term this January.
Zimmerman actually ran himself for a seat on the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners last year, vying to represent District 1. He was defeated in the November election by now-Commissioner Sharon Meieran.
"A lot of the reason that I ran initially was an interest in the business of the county, if you will," Zimmerman said.
After he lost the election, he said, he took a step back to think about what he wanted to do with his career.
Zimmerman said, "That hadn't changed — I still wanted to work on good local government."
Although it is unelected, Zimmerman said, city administration focuses on the same sort of issues he wanted to address as a Multnomah County commissioner. He described it as being in the "same realm" as the elected office he had sought.
"I think it's a really natural fit," said Zimmerman, noting that Tigard and neighboring Multnomah County are confronting some of the same issues. Among other things, both communities are dealing with affordable housing shortages, transportation gridlock and homelessness.
Zimmerman succeeded Liz Newton as Tigard's assistant city manager. He told The Times he was able to work with Newton to get acclimated to the role before beginning his first week Monday.
By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times