Sequim chooses new city manager

Issaquah development director Charlie Bush picked from field of six finalists

Charlie Bush of Snoqualmie is set to replace Steve Burkett as Sequim city manager.

Sequim city councilors unanimously voted June 22 at their meeting to offer a contract to Bush, current development services director for the City of Issaquah.

He was chosen from six finalists including John DuRocher of Des Plaines, Ill., Belinda Graham of Riverside, Calif., Kandis Hanson of Mound, Minn., Yvonne Kimball of Dewey-Humboldt, Ariz., and William Kohbarger of North Las Vegas, Nev.

The city hosted a meet-and-greet on June 18 and city councilors held 35-minute individual interviews with each candidate on June 19.

City Councilor Ted Miller said Bush was his first choice.

“He was personable, he spoke his mind, he was very knowledgeable and he has a lot of experience, although not a lot of formal city manager experience,” he said.

City councilors made their decision Friday night and they discussed Bush’s contract on Monday night.

His tentative start date is Aug. 17 with a base salary of $120,000 a year at least for four years, which includes up to $5,000 in moving expenses, $300 monthly car allowance, 80 hours of sick leave, medical, dental, vision, life and long-term disability and retirement insurance.

“We are really excited because this he’s a young man and energetic and has a lot of enthusiasm,” said Mayor Candace Pratt.

“(Sequim) seems to be a great fit for him professionally and he has had experience in small towns and large towns.”

Councilors said there was a runner-up but would not disclose the candidate’s name.

They also voted 5-2 to appoint City Attorney Craig Ritchie as interim city manager after Burkett retires on June 30. He’ll receive a 10-percent monthly pay increase until Bush begins.

About Bush

Bush said Sequim has been on his radar for more than 10 years because of its naturalistic qualities and that it’s a smaller organization.

“I enjoy working in a community knowing a majority of the partners and leaders,” he said.

He and his wife also enjoy hiking, the scenery, ocean and she loves bird watching.

“We also remain in Western Washington and we’re not too far from Seattle or Seatac,” he said.

Bush has worked for the City of Issaquah since May 2012 where he served as deputy city administrator through March 2014 where he managed 161 employees and $45 million in operating and $18 million in capital budgets until he took on the development services director position.

Last year, he managed about $250 million in construction in the city.

Prior to Issaquah, he worked four years (2008-2012) in Prosser as its city administrator and nearly six years for Bellevue splitting his time as the intergovernmental management analyst and later the assistant to the city manager. (2002-2008). He also worked for the Cities of Glendale and Phoenix in Arizona.

Bush said he’s moved on from each job on his own with “a desire to gain more experience and perspective.”

He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wittenberg University and a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University.

Sequim’s future

During his interviews with city councilors and staff Bush said some of their top priorities include funding infrastructure like city streets, the environment’s role in regional growth and that the economy is vital.

“For now, I’m coming to listen and learn,” he said.

“I’m not going to presume I know things more than the community and the people who have been here a long time. Starting out, I’m deferring a lot to the council and the staff and their perspective.”

On what he brings to Sequim, Bush said he has high level of leadership qualities, an ability to relate to people well and plan and organize to get things done.

Bush serves on a number of committees including on the board of directors for the Association of Washington Cities and has experience working with service agencies like the Rotary and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He said he’ll discuss with the city council future plans to join local organizations and outreach to those groups to see where the gaps are in the community.

When he arrives, Bush will be jumping into the city’s budget season and he’ll be looking to help fill the vacant public works director position and city attorney position after Ritchie plans to retire later this year.