4/9/2013 1:34:00 PM Gorayeb tapped for city manager
By John Griffith
Andrew Gorayeb will serve as Sisters' "limited duration" city manager.
The city council selected Gorayeb after a three-hour interview session with three interested parties on a 3-2 vote.
Mayor Brad Boyd, council president McKibben Womack and councilor Wendy Holzman voted for Gorayeb. Councilors Catherine Childress and David Asson cast the dissenting votes.
Gorayeb will sign a four-month contract beginning April 10. If needed, the contract can be extended until a permanent city manager is hired. As a "limited-duration" city manager, Gorayeb will have all the authority of a permanent city manager, including the authority to hire, review, discipline and fire city staff.
Exactly a week earlier, long-term city manager Eileen Stein ended her 11-year city tenure with her resignation, creating the opening that Gorayeb was selected to fill.
All five councilors agreed that one of the primary functions of the interim city manager would be to guide the search for and signing of a permanent city manager.
The other two candidates, Larry Patterson and Bill Brandon, touted their extensive city management experience. Both had over 20 years experience as a city manager in a variety of cities. Both minority councilors ranked Patterson as their first choice and Gorayeb as the second choice. The majority councilors had Gorayeb as their first choice with Patterson second.
Due to his personal pension restrictions, Patterson could not serve for longer than six months. The majority councilors expressed concern that this restriction might cause difficulties if the search for a permanent city manager took longer than six months.
The minority councilors cited Gorayeb's lack of municipal management experience and his entrepreneurial zeal as their primary concerns. They appeared to be focused on hiring more of a caretaker interim city manager, someone that could hit the ground running, and someone that would not make any significant changes.
Childress said, "I am very concerned with anybody coming into this city as an interim and starting to make changes. I don't want to see anything done to change the way our staff is organized or the way we do business until we hire a permanent administrator. If anyone is going to make changes it needs be that new (permanent) person."
The majority councilors cited Gorayeb's significant business and financial experience and his extensive management experience as something they were looking for to revitalize the city's internal structure, and enhance the city's presence and leadership in the community. They also cited Gorayeb's significant knowledge of and contribution to the Sisters community.
Since his arrival in Sisters in 2007, Gorayeb has been a member of the budget committee for the city, Sisters School District, Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD) and the Sisters-Camp Sherman fire district. He is currently an elected member of the Sisters School Board and SPRD.
Gorayeb is also active in Outlaws Lacrosse (chairman and coach), the Sisters High ASPIRE program, Circle of Friends (board member), and most recently served as a key member of the successful local option political action committee. He was also selected as Volunteer of the Year for 2012 by the Sisters Area Chamber of Commerce.
Gorayeb has an extensive background in commercial real estate finance with a number of firms including GE Capital, as well as the management of a number of smaller firms that he started. Per his résumé, he has personally been involved in over $15 billion in real estate transactions over the years.
The council decision reflected the tension that has permeated council deliberations around Stein's departure.
After the decision to hire Gorayeb, Councilor Asson said, "This a pretty sad day for our city. We went through the motions, but this was a pre-concluded decision. Since day one of the elections it has not been open. I have not been called by the mayor once. I have not been involved in the discussions leading to the dismissal of Eileen. I learned from Andrew that he was asked to run by Boyd. When I asked Boyd he said no, Andrew called me. I have not been talked to by Boyd, Wendy or McKibben other than to have them say 'keep quiet,' and I'm not going to keep quiet."
The mayor had a dramatically different view of Gorayeb's selection.
Mayor Boyd said, "It was great to see three qualified candidates here so quickly to give us a real choice. I appreciate all their time and efforts in helping the city of Sisters. I could not be more pleased in the council's choice of Andrew Gorayeb as a limited-duration city manager.
"I think he brings a wealth of experience. He brings a perspective that comes from the private sector of working with municipalities and cities and doing development. He also brings a perspective from this community. He knows the players. He gets it about Sisters. He gets what our troubles are and what our issues are," said Boyd.
"In no way shape or form was this decision pre-concluded."
Council deliberations revealed concern about Gorayeb's intentions.
During the deliberations, Councilor Asson said, "In my discussions with Andrew (earlier in the week) he disclosed his agenda. He said that he had studied the budget carefully and had determined that we (the City) were severely overstaffed. One of his objectives was to make some changes in that regard. He used the number six as the number we are overstaffed by."
Mayor Boyd said, "That is certainly a different conversation than I have had with Andrew. He has said exactly the opposite to me; that he was not coming in to be a hatchet man. I think to bring this up in this manner is a little bit of fear mongering."
When asked about Asson's comment, Gorayeb said, "It is not true. I have no personnel agenda other than to get the city to be more engaged with the community and more supportive of everything that is going on here. Do I see some opportunities to do things more efficiently? Yes I do."
When asked about his first steps in his new position Gorayeb said, "Ever since I was on the budget committee two years ago, I have been concerned about the City of Sisters and its connection to this community, and the need for more collaboration to improve our town's economic conditions.
"I travel this state periodically and I see pockets of real economic vibrancy, and it troubles me that in a community with so many assets and so much talent and so many well intended people we aren't experiencing the same here," said Gorayeb.
He cited Portland, Tualatin, and Jacksonville as examples of vibrancy that he believes Sisters could match.