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Mayor plans to seek city manager post

First published in the July 16 print edition

Mayor Henry Balensifer presides over a City Commission meeting. (Cindy Yingst)
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, July 22, 2021

Mayor Henry Balensifer would like to be Warrenton’s next city manager.

He made the announcement at Tuesday night’s city commission meeting during a discussion about finding a replacement for City Manager Linda Engbretson. Engbretson plans to retire later this year.

“I intend to put my name in for that,” he told fellow commissioners and then stepped back from the conversation about how the recruitment process would be handled.

The four remaining commissioners agreed the city will hire a headhunter or professional services agency that will help them figure out how the process should go and develop criteria for a new manager, such as whether that person needs to have a strong background in finance, urban renewal or planning.

They’ll organize a vetting process that allows the public to get involved in the process.

“It’s something we don’t do every day and I want to get it right,” Commissioner Tom Dyer said.

“We need to have a professional selection, clean,” added Commissioner Rick Newton. “I don’t want to be a Podunk town. I want to do this professionally.”

Both Dyer and Commissioner Mark Baldwin said they’d like Engbretson to be involved in the recruitment process because of her vast experience. She spent 26 years as a city employee, the last six as city manager. She worked under six different city managers while serving as Warrenton’s city recorder.

“While I appreciate the kind words, there is something to be said for someone coming in and being more objective than I can be,” Engbretson said.

Balensifer, 32, holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a specialized study in conflict resolution from George Fox University. He has been marketing and government relations manager for JBT Lektro for 7 ½ years.

“I love the city of Warrenton,” Balensifer said. “As mayor, I’m a volunteer, which means weekends, evenings and whenever I can.”

Serving as city manager means he’d make it a full-time job and could have a greater impact, he said.

“I have a deep knowledge of the city, it’s history, and a lot of the policies put into place. In some cases, I’ve written them,” he said. “I already have a house here and I don’t own anything else, so there’s not a lot of conflicts” of interest.