Messy politics no more? Union Gap hires new city manager

Messy politics no more? Union Gap hires new city manager
UNION GAP, Wash. -- Monday night, Union Gap city council made an effort towards a fresh start in the city.

Council chose Rodney Otterness as the new city manager.
Otterness comes from Minnesota where he was a city administrator for seven years.

"I certainly would like to be part of articulating why this is a great town to open a business and raise a family,” Otterness said.

Otterness was publicly interviewed for one hour before city officials and a public committee. Council asked him if he was aware of the city's recent political turmoil.

"People have now spoken on the change in management and I guess I have the expectation that all of you want to do what's best for the community and want to move forward in a positive way,” Otterness said. “I certainly would love to be part of that."

In the past year, KIMA reported repeatedly about Union Gap's trouble with its employees, as well.

City workers consistently fired or re-hired; lawsuits and criminal charges against former mayor, Jim Lemon. And, documented tension between Lemon and council members.

Otterness told city council he would like to form a new labor management committee to prevent these things from happening again.

"In an effort to try to capture complaints or concerns of employees before they turn into grievances or disciplinary types of actions,” Otterness said.

City council also expresses their concerns with the area's problem with gangs. Otterness admits his current city doesn't face the same crime; however he says he's willing to tackle the problem.

He also tells KIMA he will focus on improving Union Gap's neighborhoods--not just its shopping centers.

“The important thing is that we do deliver good services to our residents but we recognize that they live within this larger Yakima valley,” Otterness said.

The other finalist was an executive from the Port of Douglas County. City officials say Otterness has more-relatable experience.

Union Gap council would like him to be on the job by April 1st.