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Sunnyside names city manager finalists

Following a winnowing process that narrowed 29 applicants to four finalists, the city of Sunnyside has decided on four candidates for its city manager vacancy.

In alphabetical order they are Mark J. Gervasi, City Manager of Tillamook, Ore.; Mark Roath, City Manager of McAlester, Okla.; Michael Stampfler, Owner/Managing Partner of CivicQwest Consulting in Portage, Mich. and Eric Swansen, Village Manager of Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Gervasi told the Daily Sun News that though Sunnyside is a larger city than Tillamook, they both share small town values, noting that both have large dairy industries. "That's what attracts me to Sunnyside," he said.

Gervasi added he'd like to put his experience to work in revitalizing Sunnyside's downtown. Tillamook, for example, worked with its Safeway store in moving back into the city's downtown area.

Roath sees Sunnyside as a "wonderful opportunity." Among the features that attracted him to the community is a chance for the Montana native to return to the Northwest.

"It's kind of like coming home," he said.

With a background in city management land use law, Roath feels he can help the city move forward in its planning. Roath speaks Spanish, something he says he learned while with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. He says he enjoys the diversity in the Sunnyside area, "I'll have to brush up on my Spanish a little bit," he said.

With experience in both city government and the private sector, Stampfler says he puts an emphasis on service. He also praised the city's effort to involve more people in the political process through re-districting.

"There is a demographic mix here which I think is a positive for creativity," he said.

Stampfler said he seeks to come to the Sunnyside area because he has a daughter in the Seattle area and because of the terrain of the Lower Valley. Stampfler says he's also heard good reports from his daughter about the vineyards here.

Swansen has previously served the cities of Shoreline and Lacey. "I have experience in Washington," he says of city government in this state. That experience, he adds, includes helping cities overcome financial problems "on a scale similar to what Sunnyside recently discovered."

He also has a focus on providing access to the public. As for the city's current four-day work week, he said city employees typically put in more than 40 hours a week, but the schedule should be evaluated to see if it's meeting the public's needs.

All four finalists are now in town and will participate in a meet and greet with the public tomorrow, Thursday, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the community center. Other activities planned include visits with city staff, a tour of the area and individual interviews with the city council.

The city hopes to have its city manager vacancy filled by this July.

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