Position set to last six months, potential to become permanent
By Stefanie Donahue
Blaine community development director Michael Jones will take the helm as interim city manager in June.
Jones will replace city manager Dave Wilbrecht who is retiring on June 15. Wilbrecht has held the position for approximately five years.
At a special meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 16, Blaine City Council is slated to formally approve Jones’ appointment.
The news first broke at the tail end of a regular city council meeting on April 9 by mayor Bonnie Onyon. In a press release issued the next day, she said:
“We are glad there is someone in-house who is qualified for the position. In addition to Michael’s experience and academic qualifications, he provides history and continuity with the city. The city council is confident that Michael is up to the task and looking forward to working closely with him as we chart the city’s course in the years ahead.”
Jones began working for the city in 2007 and is the director of community development. In addition to his experience working for the city, he also has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington.
The city decided to forgo the typical process of hiring a recruiting firm to perform a candidates search and instead decided to promote Jones to interim manager for six months with an option to make it permanent after that period.
“Having a longtime employee in the role helps the city maintain continuity and progress on important projects such as sale of the former airport site, development of infrastructure into east Blaine, downtown revitalization and addressing the retirement of key staff,” read the press release. “The city’s [former] police chief, Mike Haslip, and administrative services director, Sheri Sanchez, both retired over the past few months.”
Jones is already transitioning to the position and will officially step in on June 15. He said staff with community development services are preparing a transition plan to prepare for his absence as director.
“I’m thrilled about the opportunity and excited to be working with the city council,” Jones said. “Blaine has some significant challenges and opportunities ahead. We’re seeing increasing development activity, we’re undergoing multiple staff transitions and we’re experiencing ongoing budget challenges. This is a dynamic time.”