Portland begins search for assistant city manager

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PORTLAND — With Deputy City Manager Anita LaChance preparing to retire in July, the city has started the search for her replacement.

“We are looking for someone who will bring new ideas … who will push the envelope with me,” City Manager Jon Jennings said Feb. 8.

Applicants have until March 1 to respond to an ad on the city website, which is also accompanied by a brochure advertising the position, now called assistant city manager.

LaChance has been with the city for 38 years, and became deputy city manager after Jennings was appointed city manager in July 2015. He said he asked her to shift over from overseeing city parks because of the breadth of her experience and abilities.

Jennings said he, Human Resource Director Gina Tapp and “some senior staff” will review resumes and interview candidates. 

“We are focusing on a hire with a lot of experience with modern technologies,” Jennings said.

He said he also hopes to hire someone sooner rather than later, so LaChance’s replacement can spend time with her.

While seeking someone attuned to modern technology, Jennings also said knowing how to make a city work will be key.

With a starting salary range of $120,000 to $140,000, the new assistant city manager will be “responsible for directing various citywide departmental activities and operations,” according to the ad.

The job description notes the assistant city manager will be the project manager on tasks assigned by the city manager, while overseeing strategic and planning efforts by individual departments, ensuring individual departments effectively manage their finances and meet goals.

LaChance has also been the liaison between staff and the City Council.

While the ad seeks one person, Jennings said he is also considering whether the city should return to the practice of having two assistant managers.

“We are looking at the scope of what needs to get done,” he said, including more focus on working with state government in Augusta.

The last official assistant city manager was Sheila Hill-Christian, who served with former City Manager Mark Rees before he resigned in September 2014. Hill-Christian then served as interim city manager until leaving for a job in Cincinnati in May 2015.

Current Police Chief Michael Sauschuck then served as interim city manager before Jennings was hired. Jennings signed a new three-year contract last year that runs through July 12, 2021.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.