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Rainier City Council

Mayor Jerry Cole, left, swears re-elected council members Robert DuPlessis, middle, and Sloan Nelson, right, into office at the council's Monday night meeting.

Rainier City Council Monday night interviewed two candidates for city administrator to replace Debra Dudley when she retires at the end of this month, but councilors did not make a decision.

Jack Howard finished his first term as county commissioner for Union County, Oregon, Monday. He has also worked as a lawyer, a teacher and a member of the City of Union Chamber of Commerce.

Howard said during his interview that he sees economic development as one of his strengths for the Rainier position. He told the council he has looked at property in the area and is still considering whether he would relocate if hired.

"What I've learned about the way we communicate our problems (is that) people don't care whether it's a county government or a city government, they just know that they're paying taxes and there's an issue," Howard said during his interview. "Being problem-solvers is how we're going to get out of this current confrontation. ... Those solutions are going to come from the lowest level possible in government.'

The second candidate, Tracy Lofstrom, lives in Long Beach and said she would relocate if hired. She is a finance officer in Astoria and formerly was finance director for the Port of Ilwaco.

Loftstrom told the council she would focus on transparency, particularly with taxpayer money, and getting to know the community if hired. She said her strengths are managing finances and working closely with city officials.

"Economics are always stressful for a small town," Lofstrom said during her council interview. "So it's important to keep people in the frame of mind that they need to support their community."

The council did not make a candidate selection at Monday's meeting,  deciding instead to further  research the two finalists. It's not yet clear when it will make a selection.

Dudley said the city received "many qualified" applications for the position, narrowing the pile down to eight through phone interviews in October and eventually down to four applications. On Dec. 13, four were interviewed and the council narrowed its choices to Howard and Lofstrom.

Dudley is retiring at the end of the month after 12 years as city administrator. It's unclear if the next administrator will make the same $83,000 annual salary.

Also during the meeting, re-elected Mayor Jerry Cole and council members Sloan Nelson, Robert DuPlessis and James Bradfield were all sworn into office.

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