This is the latest post in a new series about growing up with a parent who is also a City Manager. You can check out past installments here: Growing Up in City Hall. Today, we hear from Pat Hare the Assistant City Manager of Adair Village, Oregon.
Pat Hare serves as the assistant city administrator for the city of Adair Village, OR. He received a bachelor’s degree from Western Oregon University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oregon.
Pat’s dad Wes Hare has served the Albany (OR) city manager since 2005. Before landing in Albany, Wes has the city manager in La Grande. He was on the governor’s “Big Look” land-use task force and holds degrees from the University of Oregon.
Wes spent six months as a consultant in Karbala, Iraq, through a program sponsored by the International City/County Management Association. He has a bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Oregon.
Q & A
What was it like growing up with a parent who was a city manager? Was there anything you liked, anything you could have done without?
When I was just a little guy I used to tell everyone that my dad was the boss of the town. I thought it was pretty cool that in some way my dad was in charge of the police and fire departments. Through the years I began to realize that this was only partially true and that it didn’t even begin to describe what he actually did.
I liked my dad being city manger but there were some sacrifices. A city manager has a lot of responsibilities and a lot of commitments. Meetings and social events were a big part of what I remember growing up. I think for me the hardest thing was gaining an understanding that my dad had to take care of his family and to accomplish that meant committing a lot of his time to work.
Did you move around a lot growing up? If so, what was that like?
We made two really big moves in my life starting with moving from Eugene to Oakridge. When we moved to Oakridge I was only seven years old. That move was great for us kids because we got to live in the mountains where we were able to fish, hike and just be around nature a lot more than we ever had before.
The second move was to La Grande when I was 15; this was a lot harder for me. I had been in Oakridge for several years by that time, which made it very difficult to leave everything behind. I actually moved back to Oakridge when I was seventeen to live with a friend and his family for my senior year in high school.
How did having a parent who is a city manager influence your career choice? Was there pressure to follow in their footsteps? When did you become interested in pursuing this career path?
I think having my dad as a city manager actually made me not want to pursue this career path. To be honest the decision to become a city manager didn’t come until the City of Adair Village offered me a job. I was almost finished with my internship at Adair Village and I was looking for employment in public works somewhere. I applied for a public works supervisor position in Metolius, Oregon and shortly after applying, I received a call for an interview. I told the City of Adair Village about the interview and a few days later Drew Foster, the City Manager of Adair Village, called me into his office. Drew told me that the City would like me to stay and that they would make me the Assistant City Administrator. It wasn’t until that moment that I decided to head down this career path.
Did you learn any lessons from their career or experience? Has your career path been different?
The one thing that I will never forget is that this career is a lifestyle. My dad taught me at an early age that your integrity is everything in this profession. It is not enough to be educated and a hard worker. You have to set the example in every aspect of your life.
The other thing I took from my dad that I think is important is how he has treated everyone throughout his career. My dad treats everyone with respect no matter what issues or problems they have. In this profession that is very hard to do, especially when they do not show you the same courtesy.
I think our career path has been very similar in that we both started as interns in small cities and then moved into city management; however our mindsets were very different. I was not planning to be a city manager as I said before. It’s kind of funny because my dad and I were about the same age when we got into the profession.
Do you have a professional relationship with your parent? Do you exchange work related advice?
We frequently talk about work related issues and sometimes offer advice. Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone you trust just listen and provide confirmation that you are following the right path. To be honest this is pretty one sided. My dad and I are very close so I talk to him several times a week about what I am doing. My dad is very well known for his integrity and success in the profession so I feel honored to have him as a mentor. He jokes with me sometimes by saying that “Adair Village has the cheapest consultant around”.
What does your parent think of you following in their footsteps? Did they think it was a terrible idea or were they supportive?
He supports my decisions and, although he knows city management isn’t easy, he also knows it is rewarding. I think he would be happy for me to be doing any work I enjoyed that allowed me to support my family. I know that he is proud of me and he definitely likes introducing me to colleagues at different functions.
How did you describe your parent’s job to friends? City manager has to be one of the most confusing jobs to explain.
I have a very different answer to this now that I have a lot better understanding of what the job entails. When I was younger I would just say “he ran the town and went to a lot of meetings”.
Today the short answer that I use is “he oversees all the different departments that work for the city by coordinating with department heads and the city council”. Now this is a very generic answer but as the question mentions it is hard to explain what this actually entails to people that don’t understand the public sector. I know that this consists of making a lot of decisions in the best interest of the city, dealing with a lot of personnel issues, responding to the public good or bad which is usually the latter, attending council meetings, budget meetings, and several others, and one of his most important functions is ensuring that the budget is accurate and well managed. There are several other functions that a city manager performs and there are functions a city manager never knew they were going to have to perform.
What advice can you give to kids whose parent is a city manager?
I would say that they should try and gain a better understanding of what their parent actually does. I think that this job can be very rewarding but at the same time very stressful. I wish now that I would have realized how the choices I made impacted my dad. I think if I would have understood what he did and who it was for I might have respected his position more.
Would you encourage your children to pursue a career in local government?
I don’t know that I would encourage them to pursue a career in local government but I would certainly support them. I guess that is another thing I learned from my dad that I really respect. He always let my siblings and I make our own choices and then he supported us.
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