The search for Longview’s next city manager has concluded.
The Longview City Council voted 6-1 to appoint Kris Swanson as the next city manager during their Thursday night meeting. Swanson will replace retiring city manager Kurt Sacha on March 1, becoming Longview’s sixth city manager since the position was created in 1968.
Swanson said Monday she was honored and grateful to add the leadership position in Longview to her 30-plus career in government work, nearly all of which has been in Cowlitz County.
“Of all the levels of government, I have enjoyed working for the city the most. It’s even closer to the people. There’s a lot of things we do that has direct and immediate impact on the citizens,” Swanson said.
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The city manager does not set Longview’s policies but they play a major role in shaping the city’s focus. The manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the city departments, including hiring decisions and budget plans, as well as recommending policies and carrying out the votes cast by the City Council.
Longview’s council majority voted Thursday against taking on a wider recruitment search for the position through either the city’s human resources division or a third-party firm. It was the same approach a previous version of the council took in 2018 when they appointed Sacha to take over the role.
“If this council has a meeting of the minds... if we agree that Kris Swanson is the best-suited internal candidate for this position, it would be a farce to go through any kind of recruitment effort,” councilman Mike Wallin said.
Spencer Boudreau voted against the hire, saying a longer search should be taken for one of the most important and highest-paid jobs in the county.
Prior to joining Longview, Swanson had a long career in the Cowlitz County Auditor’s Office. She began managing the county election’s division in 1991 and was elected as county auditor five times between 1998 and 2017.
Swanson left the county to work in the Washington State Auditor’s Office, where she was the director of the Center for Government Innovation for two years before taking a job as the administrative services director for Longview.
In July, Sacha tapped Swanson to work as the assistant city manager. The largest project Swanson worked on during her months in that role was the city’s response to homelessness, leading up to the creation of the incoming HOPE Village pallet home community on Alabama Street.
“It’s been the most challenging issue I’ve ever had to lead on,” Swanson said. “We are putting together a project that I believe will have an impact and make a difference.”
The details of Swanson’s contract still need to be approved by the City Council before Swanson officially takes over the position in March.