Meet the MANager

Once he gets settled into his new surroundings, Sequim's new city manager Steve Burkett wants to do two things: meet as many people as he can and listen to them.

"I'll be keeping my ears open and my mouth shut," he said.

He wants to meet with department heads about what needs attention short term and then move to the long term, Burkett said.

Then he'll meet with city councilors and schedule sessions with community members.

Burkett said he wants to find out what is important to people, the good and the bad of the city government, what attracts people to Sequim and what needs improvement.

Learn from

other towns

He wants to find another Washington city that has developed similarly to Sequim and learn from its mistakes and successes.

People like building new things such as parks much more than maintaining the existing ones, Burkett said, so he wants to set up a system that makes people aware of impending replacement costs for equipment and infrastructure.

Governments resist change although they must and will change, Burkett said.

Sometimes governments don't adjust until a crisis occurs, he said.

Good governance

The council/manager

form of government is effective because it has a strong policy group in the city council and a chief executive in the city manager, Burkett said.

A strong code of ethics separates a professional city manager from a "strong mayor," he said.

Burkett, 64, began work Monday, Oct. 19, after being selected unanimously by the city council at its Oct. 5 meeting following a series of false starts, including having three candidates turn down the city and withdrawing its offer to its earlier first choice.

He and his wife, Bobbi, are renting a house while they look for a permanent home.

Burkett said his passions include fishing - despite once sinking his boat on Oregon's McKenzie River - and bicycling. He and his wife can't wait to get their bicycles out of the moving van and onto the Olympic Discovery Trail.

Reach Brian Gawley at

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