Podcast: Recruiting in the City of Bend, OR with Eric King & Stephanie Betteridge

Posted on November 3, 2020


Eric King Stephanie Betteridge
Eric King
City Manager
City of Bend, Oregon
Bio | LinkedIn | Twitter
Stephanie Betteridge
Chief Innovation Officer
City of Bend, Oregon
LinkedIn

Attracting aspiring local government leaders. Eric King, City Manager, and Stephanie Betteridge, Chief Innovation Officer, joined the podcast to talk about a new recruitment. The City is hiring for a Strategic Initiatives Manager (and other roles) and they shared what led to creating this position, what skills they are looking for, and what the first few months on the job will be like. Eric and Stephanie also shared their own career paths in local government and what makes Bend unique.

Host: Kirsten Wyatt

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Episode Transcript

Message

This is Brian Murphy, ELGL’s Data Manager. The ELGL Diversity Dashboard is the first national data collection on the gender, race and age of local government leadership. We’re excited to launch our third full year of data collection. This year, we’re expanding our collection to include all levels of local government positions, not just Chief Administrative Officers, in an effort to get a better understanding of diversity across a wider variety of local government positions. This year’s survey is looking for responses from local government leaders working in many different positions. We look forward to hearing from department heads, project managers, analysts and others as we hope to get data on the diversity of local government leadership. You can find more information on the survey and a link to respond at elgl.org/diversity-dashboard. We hope you’ll respond and follow the data as we work to make local government more diverse.

Kirsten Wyatt

Coming to you from Portland, Oregon, this is GovLove, a podcast about local government. GovLove is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Kirsten Wyatt, the ELGL co-founder and Executive Director and today I’m joined by City Manager Eric King and Chief Innovation Officer, Stephanie Betteridge from the City of Bend Oregon. Eric, Stephanie, welcome to GovLove.

Eric King

Thanks so much for having us.

Stephanie Betteridge

We’re excited to be here today. Thanks, Kirsten.

Kirsten Wyatt

Today, we’re talking about careers with the City of Bend, how you can apply and more about their work in this fast growing Central Oregon City. But first, we’ll get started with a lightning round. So Eric, you can answer this one first. What is your most controversial non-political opinion?

Eric King

You know, for me, I’m the guy that does the laundry in the house. And my opinion is that anything should be able to go in the washer, and anything should be able to go in the dryer and my wife has very different feelings about that. [Laughter] It’s a domestic controversy that I feel very certain that modern washers and dryers are made for for all of life’s clothings and she does not feel the same. So we regularly get in conflicts over that.

Kirsten Wyatt

And how do you feel about dry cleaning?

Eric King

So I dry clean. Exactly. So you know the everyday clothes will go into the washer and dryer but anything that is of a where you want to be delicate, goes to the dry cleaner, in between and trying to hang clothes, dry or wash things on cold, [laughter] delicate wash like I just I guess maybe it’s the Midwest, pragmatic, pragmatic pragmatism mean for pragmatic that, you know, you hit the button, you get it clean, you put it in the dryer, you get it dry, and you fold it and you move on.

Kirsten Wyatt

I you know, I don’t think that that’s too bad. If you were telling me you threw like your suit jackets in there, I was gonna like have to put like a hard stop to that. [Laughter] But I’m glad that you know that there is a line you can’t cross.

Eric King

There is a line but it’s the Yeah [laughter] the everyday clothes.

Kirsten Wyatt

All right, Stephanie. What is your most controversial non-political opinion?

Stephanie Betteridge

Well, it’s it’s about lunchtime, and I’m feeling a little hungry. So I’m going to go kind of on the feet, the food realm. I’m going to say that pie is way better than cake. And as my middle school kids will remind me it’s also scientifically proven.

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, by what science?

Stephanie Betteridge

Pi.

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, God. [Laughter]

Stephanie Betteridge

3.14

Kirsten Wyatt

[Laughter] You are so bad.

Eric King

Oh, my gosh, you got a joke in there too Stephanie? [Laughter]

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, my goodness. I agree with you that pie is better than cake. Do you like savory pies? Are you just a sweet pie kind of person?

Stephanie Betteridge

I think I’m more of a sweet pie person. But if I was going to eat cake, I’m also a fan of vegetables in my cake.

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, okay.

Stephanie Betteridge

Carrot cake. Yeah.

Kirsten Wyatt

Zucchini bread, that type of thing. Okay.

Stephanie Betteridge

Absolutely.

Kirsten Wyatt

All right. Okay, so next question. We’ll let you start. Because it’s about food. What food do most people enjoy but you do not?

Stephanie Betteridge

So I’m going to keep with the pie theme. And while I love pie, mainly fruit pies, I really dislike pumpkin pie.

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, wow. Is it the texture?

Stephanie Betteridge

It is definitely the texture.

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay. Okay, I can understand that. And Eric, what about you? What food do most people enjoy that you do not?

Eric King

Avocados.

Kirsten Wyatt

Oh, wow. That’s bold.

Eric King

Yeah, I mean, unfortunately, it’s sort of a delayed allergy reaction. Like I kind of like don’t mind eating them. And then all of a sudden, an hour later my throat gets really itchy. And so I think and I think that has something to do with maybe the where they’re grown or something. Because it’s not consistent.

Kirsten Wyatt

Hmm. Wow. I mean, you’re kind of doing your your Gen Z millennial like background, some disservice by saying that you’re not an avocado toast guy.

Eric King

I know. I know. I know. [laughter] I know. Avocado toast. It’s a staple food on the west coast.

Kirsten Wyatt

Exactly. Have you ever seen how Kent Wyatt cuts an avocado?

Eric King

No, but I’m curious what?

Kirsten Wyatt

I’ll send you a picture. It’s it’s brutal. And it’s and it’s it’s horrible. And it makes you question his sanity.

Eric King

I don’t know if I needed him cutting an avocado to question that. [Laughter]

Stephanie Betteridge

I don’t know if we should be questioning his or yours Kirsten.

Kirsten Wyatt

Exactly. [Laughter] All right. So last lightning round question, Eric, you can start, what book are you currently reading? And would you recommend it?

Eric King

Yes, I am reading Squeezed. And I am blanking on the author off the top of my head right now. But it is, I’m a nonfiction guy. And it’s a book really about the sort of economic state that we find ourselves in. And this was written in 2017. So this is pre pandemic. But so it’s only amplified of this, those folks that are highly educated, that are getting squeezed out, you know, everything from …. to lawyers that are aren’t really able to earn a living and kind of that American dream that we all think of and sort of stories that are being told, different perspectives all over the country, as well as some data thrown in there too, just to illustrate the this divergent economy that is growing, especially now. So I just really wanted to have a better understanding of that psyche of what what how people are surviving right now and what it looks like so I highly recommend it.

Kirsten Wyatt

Great. Well, we will link to it from this episode page. And Stephanie, what about you? What book are you reading? And would you recommend it?

Stephanie Betteridge

I am currently reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, and I absolutely recommend it not just to introverts, but to the extroverts that are in the lives of us introverts. It’s, it’s so validating, and just each chapter I read resonates so well.

Kirsten Wyatt

I agree. And I think the sections about hiring and interviewing were so fascinating, about, you know, how we need to recognize the differences in people and how we can’t jump to judgment, just because someone might be more introverted or might be more extroverted. So I agree with you 100%. All right. So let’s get started. But first, for our listeners who have not yet met you, could you give us a some of your career path highlights? How did you get from, from when you first started in the working world to where you are today? And Eric, why don’t you go first?

Eric King

Sure. So my start in local government really happened when I was in undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison. I wanted an internship to get exposed to local government because I had intended to get a urban planning degree as an undergrad. And so I worked for the City of Madison and actually worked in the affirmative action department conducting a disparity study for the city to, so the city could better understand racial disparities in, it’s not contracting, it’s not contracting, it’s a construction dollars. But I did that and completed that work. And while I was in college, prior to getting an internship, I worked up in Alaska at a national park and was the Alpine guide and loved the outdoors. And being born and raised in the Midwest, I knew I had to get out of the Midwest as soon as I finished college, having had that exposure. So I kind of targeted the North, the Northwest. And as soon as I finished, I moved to Portland, partly because of its reputation as kind of a mecca for urban planning to go to grad school. And so I did. I moved to Portland, and looked for jobs and found a job at the City of Portland kind of doing some of the same things that I built at that disparity study in the City of Madison, they’re implementing programs to do a better job. It was before the word equity was was commonly used. But it was, I think, really along those lines of doing a better job through kind of an economic development lens of providing opportunities for minorities and women, really starting in the construction trades, but it expanded into other sort of professional services and really all aspects of how the city was contracting out to vendors, etc. So I did that work for a couple of years, went to grad school, got my master’s in urban planning, moved into more administrative work and managing programs, everything from integrating social services into neighborhoods, to liquor licensing. That was a controversial thing in Portland. How to sale and service of alcohol without disruption to neighborhood livability, graffiti abatement, kind of that really neighborhood livability types of …., and then moved into administrative work, from there working for the opposite neighborhood. And as like a business manager. At that time, my wife and I started a family. Our son was born. And we were looking for maybe a different pace, and different scenery and looked at Central Oregon and, and there was a job open for Assistant City Manager and kind of took a leap of faith and applied for it, ended up getting it and was in the job for about six months here in Bend in a pretty crazy time in 2007, when things started to really crash, and the council decided to take a change in direction and had terminated the city manager at the time. So I stepped in as interim. And I was in the role, wasn’t quite sure if I wanted it permanently, but I had to make some pretty significant decisions as a result of the economic kind of freefall and decided ultimately to apply and had to compete for the position permanently and was able to, was successful in that and have been in this role as City Manager since May of 2008. So closing in on 13 years.

Kirsten Wyatt

Wow. And and for for folks who aren’t familiar with Bend and with your economy, can you kind of explain that, that that down and then that kind of the upturn and kind of what what sustains the Bend community economically?

Eric King

Yeah, I mean, it’s ever evolving. So I think, you know, Bend has been, it really was a timber town, like a lot of Oregon cities were up until the 80s. And with kind of the recession in the 80s, and with other kind of regulations that just made timber, the logging very difficult, so that the economy was very depressed. And so I think Bend really turned to tourism, and it’s kind of lifestyle brand, outdoor amenities, etc, in the in the 80s. And then growth really picked up in the 90s with folks being able to work remotely, etc. And, and sort of tourism kind of turned into development and construction. So just supporting all that growth, we had a pretty dominant construction trade development industry that was dominating the economy. And so we’ve been going through these kind of boom, bust cycles. And each as we go through each cycle, there’s an opportunity to diversify the economy. So I think we’re in a much better place, or recently, so obviously, things crashed pretty hard in 2007, when, you know, the with the housing crisis, especially, and to kind of rebuild our economy and one of the things I’m really proud about in Bend over the last five years, we’ve been number one city in the country, according to the Milken Institute for job growth, wage growth and jobs in the tech sector, which just demonstrates the people are coming here bringing jobs in all different sectors. I would say though, our primary ones are our tech, bio science, healthcare, of course, craft craft brewing, we’ve got 22 breweries in Bend. So it’s we are really evolving from just being kind of a tourism dependent or construction development and have a much more diverse economy. In fact, our economy is more similar to an Austin, Texas than it did Jackson, Wyoming. It is less and less dependent on tourism as we go through these cycles. So now with a four year university with OSU cascades, establishing and building a brand new campus here in Bend, which is really exciting. It’s a big project that, that that started when I first got here. And we were able to open that up in 2016. So it’s it’s in every year, it’s getting better.

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s wonderful. Well, thanks for that background. And Stephanie, tell our listeners more about you and your career path.

Stephanie Betteridge

Sure. So similar to Eric, public service has always been at the core of my career. And similar to Eric, I also did an internship in local government when I was doing my undergrad. I was at University of Oregon studying geography with a focus on GIS and cartography, and had a chance to have a GIS internship with the Lane Council of Governments in Eugene. From there, I kind of jumped from local government and went to go work for the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service at the state office in Oregon. I’m working on some really cool both Northwest and nationwide initiatives with both mapping and got to work on a project with scientists across the region, developing a special status species database to help them comply with the Endangered Species Act. But but the federal level was just way too big for me. You never got to see the outcomes of your work. And so I had an opportunity to move to the City of Gresham. Started there doing GIS and analytics and then moved into a role doing some more strategic work with the city manager’s office, loved it. But after seven years I was like, is local government really where I want to be, and had an incredible opportunity, right as the Affordable Care Act was, was coming into being and went to Oregon Health and Science University and worked at their sub, their Center for Evidence Based Policy. I’m leading two programs that worked on Medicaid programs for both kind of just medic medical in general, but then also drug effectiveness. And we did evidence based analysis to help state Medicaid programs determine what they were going to cover. And that you know, that’s a really important decision. You have a limited funds, and you have to determine what is the most effective way to distribute those funds and make sure that that your your customers, your clients, the Medicaid recipients get the care that they need. So that was a great experience. But through that, I realized that my heart was really in local government, again, even at that state level, never really got to see the impact of my work. And I really missed having that community connection. And so about that time, City of Gresham had an opportunity that I seized upon, and I was able to go back and lead a city wide technology initiative, helped to put some additional framework around their council goals, and then that that position continued to evolve and became their first Chief Innovation Officer. Fast forward a little bit to 2019, and City of Bend also had a Chief Innovation Officer position that Eric was creating. And it was a recast of an assistant city manager position that was really looking to innovate, to make sure that that the city could meet the changing needs and expectations of the Bend community, and the stars aligned. And I was able to, to come to Bend and be part of an incredible leadership team, where everybody works together so collaboratively, and has a common set of values and is really, you know, at the heart of public service. And, and a big part of that was Eric and Eric’s leadership style where he really has a collaborative approach. He is very transparent with the organization, he, he wants to make sure that everybody feels like they can contribute to the work of the city and to our decision making. It doesn’t matter if you’re frontline staff, or if or if you’re the Chief Innovation Officer, he wants to hear from everybody, and really takes to heart everybody’s ideas and thoughts on innovation. How can we best serve this amazing community in which we, in which we live so.

Kirsten Wyatt

And Eric, tell us more about why you created a Chief Innovation Officer position and really kind of refocused, you know, a former ACM position into an innovation position?

Eric King

Yeah, thank you. And thank you, Stephanie, for those kind words, I was like, I was almost gonna make you stop. [Laughter] But yeah, for me, it was about the, about the trajectory of where Bend was going. And our community really is demanding, you know, different and innovative approaches. It’s part of our culture. We’ve got a really strong entrepreneurial community here in Bend. And we were doing some great things in the city, but we just weren’t tying them all together. We were in the middle of a ERP enterprise resource planning software replacement, which, as you either have been involved, it can be pretty laborious, and we wanted to take the approach of this isn’t about just replacing outdated systems, it’s about really driving towards better solutions, and at the end of the day, providing a better service to our community members. And also, I think we had departments that were just demanding more cutting edge kind of solutions to some of their, their problems. And so it’s, it’s about technology, but it’s, for us, it was bigger than that it was about structure, process, there’s the people side of it too, like how to make this culture that is always kind of embracing of new and different ways of doing our work. And, you know, I have always kind of come with a philosophy that you know, we are the community. We really we want to embody, we want to have this sort of just team atmosphere with our community members. We don’t see it in us as an us and them. We invite it in, we have a lot of public process that really drives our work. So how do we create that culture that that helps to to reflect that and this Chief Innovation Officer, I wanted to kind of rebrand that traditional kind of assistant city manager role and to thinking again, a little bit bigger picture of how to create this intentional culture. And the CIO was a key piece of that, and having Stephanie here now, so Stephanie, I’m going to turn the table on you. She had exactly that right mix, technical background, and she knows her way around in the ERP replacement project and technology solutions, like like anybody, but the thing that she has is the, sort of the people part too and and really working through. Because she’s been part of the What Works, the kind of the smart city movement, beyond just the technology piece, but around kind of human Human Centered Design. And it was that those types of qualities that really, I think it was kind of this matching of here’s what this idea, this concept that I had, we actually put an internal team together to kind of reimagine how we would provide this service. And so it wasn’t just me kind of coming up with this idea. It was the framework really came from our staff, and then I just sort of took it and put the sort of finishing touches on it. And we it was an eruptive process of back and forth. And so we got a lot of buy in from the organization about this direction. And that all leading to creating the position, and then Stephanie was just this perfect fit for exactly what we needed. And it’s been a, it’s been an amazing boost to our organization to have this position. But then just again, Stephanie’s skill set that has taken it above and beyond what I even thought we could be doing.

Kirsten Wyatt

And Stephanie in the last, so they’ve been about 18 months, you know, other than the ERP replacement, what are some other things that you’ve had a chance to work on?

Stephanie Betteridge

Oh, you know, what I love most about my job is that it is so diverse, and it is different every day. And, you know, total transparency, I think that I probably have the coolest job at the city. I get to act as a connector and a convener to bring people together from across the organization and the community to address challenges and opportunities. So you had asked kind of what are some of the things I’m working on, in addition to the big ERP replacement, kind of really timely right now, developing and implementing a return to office and reopening our city facilities, which have been closed due to COVID. And have been working really hard with, you know, partners across the organization, to create toolkits for our employees to help them navigate these unprecedented times to support what I think is Eric, what would you say about a quarter of our workforce is currently teleworking? So we went from two employees to 250 employees working remotely in the span of two days. So it’s things like that, it’s our innovation strategic plan, which is our three to five year roadmap for elevating and expanding the use of data, technology and continuous improvement. You know, as Eric mentioned, it’s people and process that are at the core of this. So how do we how do we take all of that into account to meet our council goals, meet those changing needs and expectations of our community and deliver more effective services. I also have the privilege of helping to manage our council goal work plan. So that’s, you know, currently with council goals, we have four goals, 16 strategies, and at last count, almost 70 projects and actions. So we need to keep all of that work moving forward and be really transparent about it. So we have council gold dashboards that are available to Council and the community online. So they can see that meaningful progress that we’re making, to achieving Council’s goals around economic vitality, transportation, infrastructure, public safety and health as well as providing those efficient city operations. I mean, that’s just a couple. I also, just because one of the the most fun things we’re working on right now is because of Eric’s vision for innovation and the CIO role, we were selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies to be part of their innovation training program. So right now we are in the midst of a nine month program where we are receiving training and a designated coach, or dedicated coach from Bloomberg. We have a small cross functional team that is diving into human centered design and then we’re applying it to a challenge project in our community, which is focused around making sure that we have safe, maintained and connected sidewalk networks.

Kirsten Wyatt

Wonderful.

Stephanie Betteridge

So those are just some of the really cool projects. In addition, I have the privilege of providing leadership to our IT department, our Office of Performance Management, GIS, our project management office and sustainability and, and just I am grateful every day for for the opportunities that I have and the incredible people that I get to work with.

Kirsten Wyatt

Part of the reason that today’s podcast came together was because the, well my observation is that the similar type of analysis and then reflection that was put into, you know, reclassifying an ACM position to an innovation director, you’ve, you’ve taken this approach again, and you have a position and you have you understand the needs of your agency and of the community, and you have decided to make some changes and, and hire for a position that better reflects what your agency and your community needs. So why don’t you share with us more about the position and responsibilities? And then we can talk a little bit about how it came to be?

Eric King

Sure. Yeah, the I think, in the traditional sense, what I was looking for, was an assistant to position so I had an executive assistant and for for a variety of reasons, I felt like it wasn’t serving us in the in the best way of serving me in the best way. I’m pretty self sufficient, from an administrative perspective. What I really need is that somebody helped juggle balls, the the council goals and work plan, we’ve got kind of an infrastructure in place to do that. But there’s always the curveballs that kind of come in, at a council meeting from our community that, you know, we don’t plan for. And so some of that work is to is somewhat reactive, but some of it might be longer term. It just needs to be shaped a little bit, for us to figure out how to integrate it into the into the organization. Some of it might is part of that shaping, it needs to we need to have some, some public engagement efforts to do that, and to think about what those look like. So the the idea is okay, I knew the assistant to kind of traditionally performs that role, but I wasn’t quite sure that I just wanted to go down that traditional path, I mean, somewhere has to use as what you said, have an assistant city manager role. So we really batted around the idea and talked to other communities and you know, talked talk with you Kirsten about, you know, what that might look like. And what we ended up with is a rebranding of the position as Strategic Initiatives Manager. And it really is about that kind of nimble project management, and that connection to Council, you know, having somebody that I can rely on to offload some of the more the ad hoc things that might come in that are very important, and that just needed a little shaping. And so it requires a lot of connection with our policymakers with the community, and to some degree with our operations. But we’re not it’s they’re not quite yet sort of fully scoped. So we do have policy analysts and management analysts, a lot of cities our size do and, and those positions. So it’s kind of the key distinguisher is we didn’t, we didn’t want to, you know, add to that portfolio, because those, those positions typically focus on projects related to council goals that are, you know, pretty in depth, or chartered, they’ve got a lot of structure around them, there’s just usually a handful of them, because they’re very meaty, and they typically are going to involve, you know, many, many different departments, and, and, and just have a long lifespan. Kind of the things that we’re needing help with in our office right now is because Bend is a fast growing city and it’s so dynamic, and one of the things that we have just politically, we have a lot of political diversity here. The council there’s there’s quite a bit of turnover on Council, I mean, in my 13 years, you know, there that we don’t have that just sort of stable, the stable politics, part of what we have is a lot of stability on the administrative side, I think in order to kind of mitigate for that, some of that. So it’s somebody that can really continue that providing that being that shock absorber for the organization sort of handling some of those items that that come in from our council and community and helping shape shape them. So with an eye towards good communication, somebody that’s a good writer, that’s an aspiring I think we’re the way we’ve tried to sort of cast the net is that we’re looking for aspiring local government talent. So we see this as a really good training ground for somebody that is interested in in becoming an assistant city manager or a city manager. This is a great first stop to, to be able to sort of cut your teeth in some of this work and get that kind of really high level exposure.

Kirsten Wyatt

And what I appreciate is you didn’t just do what’s always been done, that you really reflected on, you know, what you need, and then it even sounds like you applied some of this Human Centered Design of what does the job actually do? And let’s give it a title that reflects that versus let’s give it a title that’s just been around in local government forever and ever.

Eric King

Yeah, definitely.

Kirsten Wyatt

And Stephanie, you posted a question about a job title in the ELGL Facebook group. Tell us some of the responses that you got both serious and not so serious.

Stephanie Betteridge

Oh, wow. I wish I had them in front of me right now Kirsten because I had a good laugh over, over some of them. There were some some people who really focus, you know, appreciated the traditional assistant city manager, or assistant to the city manager. But then also a feeling that, that was often associated with an executive assistant and didn’t necessarily indicate the skills and kind of experience that were needed to be successful in that role. A lot of strategic management came up and and really, that’s we we gleaned from, from those everybody’s input on the Facebook posts to land where we did, but I mean, it ranged from put her out or have fires to go to person to, you know, the most undervalued individual in the organization. [Laughter] I mean, just, there are a couple that I cannot say, on this podcast, they may not be appropriate. But [laughter]

Kirsten Wyatt

But again, I think that goes back to, you listen, you asked the question, you listened. And now it’s reflected in the position that that is, you know, now being recruited, or you’re now recruiting for. So share with us who is your ideal candidate for this job? What are some of the knowledge, skills and abilities that they’re going to bring, and that you’re gonna want to hear about in their application package?

Eric King

So really, for me, I’m looking for somebody that might be, you know, pretty fresh out of like a an MPA program, or, you know, that that’s that is really aspiring to get into local government and in that management role. So somebody that is also not afraid to be kind of in the, in the sort of the politic, the political world that you know that this isn’t just a administrative position that it’s going to have to you’re threading the needle, taking all of these inputs from every different direction and coming up with a product, whether that’s a new program or service, or it’s a project that is really important to the community. I mean, I’ll give you one example right now, we’re just like everybody, I think there’s a lot of anxiety and fear, centered around the upcoming election. And so how do we prepare a message of safety in our community, and so I just sort of because it was so important, I just jumped in, and worked with our community members to help create like an on the fly PSA that we just filmed yesterday. And we’re trying to get out via social media tonight, and on the TV and airwaves next week, so calling TV stations and radio. So I’ve been doing it because it’s so important. But this that’s an example of a project that, had I had that this position, I would have really tasked this out. It is a discrete project, it wasn’t going to sort of last forever, it was it was really needed in the moment. But it’s a big picture thing. It’s so we’re wanting somebody to operate at that level that can kind of really pull pull something like that off, you know, that problem solves in the moment. And, you know, say, well, I’ve never really done this before, but I have my intuition. And I think I need to call up those folks that are really into marketing in the community, like how did where do I start? If this community group that is kind of organized, let’s how do I leverage that group to help deliver the message? We’ve got former, both current and former city councillors that are really well positioned to sort of lend their voice to this, how do I develop a really, the folks that deliver this message in this kind of PSA format that has really good cross appeal, because that is so politically diverse, we want to make sure you know that that message is being received by all corners of our community. So so that that gives you kind of gives you an example of maybe the real, and a real context of how this might kind of play out and what this person might be, might be doing.

Stephanie Betteridge

Yeah, and, Eric, if I can, and Kirsten chime in on that, you know, I’ve been thinking a lot. Um, because at the end, we’re also going to promote a couple other positions that that we’ll be posting soon. And so have really been thinking and in our collaborative way, talking to others across the organization on kind of what are those traits that we’re really looking for, and filling some of these key positions. And I think those are, you know, to be collaborative, that effective communicator who really values partnerships and collective problem solving, and forms those relationships to get things done. Somebody who’s innovative, that strategic thinker and problem solver who really wants to embrace the challenges and think outside of the box to come up with new innovative solutions, and nimble I mean, as you’ve heard throughout the, this podcast, there’s a lot going on in Bend and we have shifting priorities. So always, you know, able to, to quickly pivot, be that multitasker and how that can do attitude and keep that positive approach and then really being curious. You know, something that we’re trying to instill in the organization and one of our values is to be curious and ask questions, explore new solutions. It’s okay to to try new things, we’re not always going to totally nail it. But we don’t know until we try. And so this culture of curiosity is part of who we are as an organization. And, quite frankly, I think it’s part of who we are as a community.

Kirsten Wyatt

I keep hearing you talk about collaboration, I love I love the focus on curiosity. To me, these are such positive attributes of a workplace. But tell us more about, you know, above and beyond kind of those self actualization type of concepts. Tell us more about the benefits to being a City of Bend employee.

Eric King

You know, I think one of the biggest benefits is that no day is, is the same. You know, everything is different. It’s a dynamic Organization, really, because it’s an extension of the community, which is, it’s still finding its way. We haven’t, we haven’t matured, and there’s some pros and cons with that. But I think if you’re really wanting to kind of grow alongside, not just a city as an organization, but as an entire community, and build things together and this sort of partnership, manner then this is, this is the job for you. It really is about being cutting edge of being leaders. One of the things about Central Oregon and being a city of now 100,000, east of the Cascades is with this this sort of concept of self reliance and resiliency, we are part of a metro area. So we have to stand on our own. And so we’ve really just kind of our, again, good and bad to that where we can’t really look around for for the assistance that we might need, we’ve got to figure it out ourselves. So being creative, and again, leveraging partnerships whenever possible, is just kind of part of our survival. And it creates that there’s a toughness, I think that’s that goes along with that. So even with this pandemic, it’s it’s been amazing to see the level of resiliency inside and outside the organization in Bend and Central Oregon of like, just plowing through and making it making it happen. So I think somebody to match that, that that culture is really important to to help us be that connector so that we can take that, take that culture in our in our community and bring it in continue to infuse it into our organization so that they and again, that we’re creating one team. And so our community sees sees us as their as their partner, as their peer.

Kirsten Wyatt

Anything to add on that Stephanie?

Stephanie Betteridge

I think Eric said it beautifully.

Kirsten Wyatt

You mentioned at the top of the podcast, there are 22 breweries in Bend, is that right?

Eric King

Yes, 22, you know, it changes a lot. So something like close to that.

Kirsten Wyatt

Okay. And so, obviously huge benefit, but tell us more about just Bend in general. And again, especially for our listeners, who maybe haven’t, you know, don’t understand or know what Central Oregon is and all of the amazingness that is there.

Eric King

Well, it is it is a outdoors paradise. So we have world class, river rafting, rock climbing, fishing, skiing, we have the six largest ski resorts in the country, Mount Bachelor, and we are tucked a little bit back in the Cascade. So we get kind of the fluffier, drier snow than you might get like at a Mount Hood or some of those, those mountains that are closer to the ocean, that wet cement, we get the really good stuff here. And and then just to me, it’s the it’s not just the the outdoor piece, it’s the we’ve got a great cultural community. All of our round, we have over 40 roundabouts, and I’d say over half of them are filled with with art. We have a private organization that donates art, and we have a roundabout art tour. As well as it goes it goes hand in hand with our ale trail. So going back to the breweries, we you can go in Bend and get your passport stamped at that many breweries. And we’ve got this role, that’s the I would say sort of youth culture around because of those amenities this, this really there’s a vibrancy and these awesome commercial neighborhood cores so we have more of a decentralized, it’s not just just the one part of downtown that’s the attractive place. We’ve got really pockets all over the city of these neighborhood gathering places that just create community. We’re really proud of the work that we’ve been we’ve done to create a and so, in the, I’m getting a little technical here. Our comprehensive plan is for me as an urban planner really is something to be proud of, of amenetizing our neighborhoods with schools and walkable communities that you know that each have its own distinct character and, and I’m feeling like we’re creating these really, it’s the people side of things of like these communities where there’s a lot of good mixing going on. And it’s really an easy place to live, to raise kids to, to meet friends and share share commonalities. . It’s a it’s a really enjoyable place to call home.

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and your community has shown a willingness as well to invest in itself. I mean, some of the redevelopment projects that you’ve that you’ve taken on, and just the ways ways that you’ve managed growth, appear to be kind of a local government, nerds paradise and so maybe talk a little bit more, especially, again, some of these really dramatic, you know, with your old mill area, and some of those projects, share a little bit more about, you know, your community’s willingness to to make the community get stronger and better.

Eric King

Well, yeah, reinvestment is huge here. I think school bonds are always approved, there was a $250 million school bond that was just approved a couple of years ago. So that there is a, we passed a transportation bond in the depths of the last recession. We have $190 million transportation bond on the ballot next week, and I feel really positive about the its prospects of passing. And in public safety, levees, always, you know, communities willing to invest in, in our future here in Bend, which is always a really positive sign. And, you know, I think, you know, with all the growth that we’re seeing right now, you know, we were, we are a fast growing city, we just had our State of the City yesterday, and, and kind of the headline in the papers today is, you know, from Boomtown to Zoom town, you know, Bend is becoming, is on that list of zoom towns as being that we are now even more accessible with people working remotely and wanting to have a little more space, really have access to the outdoors in a way that you don’t get in a larger community. But we have a lot of the amenities that you have in a bigger city, partly because of our high number of visitors that we have. So we’re able to support a wide array of restaurants and cultural facilities. And we have amazing events and concert concert venues. So there, you mentioned the old mill district, they have a Les Schwab amphitheater, we’ve got kinds of acts that we get in Bend or you know, they rival what you would get in a larger city. So it really is this, I hate kind of promoting it, because, you know, I think there’s always that, well we don’t want it to get too, you know, we got to stop worrying about that, because I think the cats out of the bag, so we just have to embrace it, as a community, we have to embrace it and manage it and to make sure that we don’t lose our character as a result of the growth and you know, that’s that’s always a work in progress. And that’s where local government comes in is making sure that when we are building and growing a city like this, that we’re doing so in a in a really, and we are really sensitive to those community values.

Kirsten Wyatt

Share with us what your, the new Strategic Initiatives Manager will work on, likely work on in their first, you know, six months on the job?

Eric King

We’ll be going into a council goal setting process here soon. So just like a lot of cities, we have our election cycle of if seven councillors, either three or four up or for every every two years, we have four councillor seats that are up, two incumbents that are running and then two vacancies. So we know that we’re going to have a new council. So a big part of this role will be kind of this integration of a new council into the system. And we have a huge opportunity because we do goal setting process that synced up with the development of our two year budget. So new council takes takes office in January, we’ll we’ll go through, we have some listening sessions and some kind of key inputs into that goal setting session. We have an off site retreat in January, so helping kind of with getting things going. And then we’ve our heads down really putting our work plan together as a staff. So as Stephanie talked about, you know, she’s kind of the architect of the process, but we, you know, this this position will be pretty instrumental in helping to execute, put this work plan that will also then help inform our two year budget. So all of that we’ve got some some milestones in there. Like in March, we come to council with our work plan. In May we deliberate that budget that takes all those council goals and resources needed to complete them and deliberate. And then we’re off and running July 1. So I would say the first six months is going to be heavily focused around strategic planning, which is a great introduction to the …. because you know, because you’re developing budgets, you’re working with counsel, it really is the perfect project, and just kind of happen that way to hopefully bring somebody on board. And it was similar to how Stephanie was brought on board too. It was just that you would think we planned it we didn’t but she started kind of integrating herself into your organization about the same time almost two years ago. I’ll let her kind of talk about that. And if you want to kind of go into more detail, but but I would say that’s the big focus.

Kirsten Wyatt

Right. And Stephanie, anything else, in terms of kind of those first six months on the job that you envision, or that you see?

Stephanie Betteridge

So I think a big part of joining any organization is really taking the time to get to know the organization and the community. And that’s something that I’ve really appreciated when I came to Bend was, Eric builds into that initial work plan, going out and meeting with all of the departments, getting out in the field, doing some ride alongs, whether it be with snow plows, police or fire, it’s, um, one thing that was different for me when I came from the valley over to bend is the close collaboration between the city and our other governmental partners, nonprofits, community organizations. As Eric mentioned earlier, we really were on a bit of an island here. And I don’t think I fully appreciated that until until I moved over. But you really are reliant on each other and do have a set of shared values that are a reflection of the community. And so spending the time to get to know the community to form those relationships, I think is a big part of the first six months as well.

Kirsten Wyatt

In terms of logistics of applying and process, how can a listener, learn more, apply for the job, and then what is the process ahead of them for this position?

Eric King

Yeah, the job is open, as of this week. I think it was just posted yesterday. So go on to www.bendoregon.gov. Go right to the job link, and you’ll see it prominently featured there. And we have really put a focus around not just a job spec and all the technical pieces, but really putting this job into action. So you’ll be able to see some of the headings of this one pager, I think, encapsulate what we’ve talked about today, and kind of the why you love Bend. And really what the job is about from a day to day perspective, and hopefully, it intrigues folks to want to learn more. And I’m always a big fan of informational interviews. So I would encourage anybody that is interested in applying to reach out to myself and Stephanie’s also a great resource. So that you get to understand the organization and what you might be getting yourself into. And we’ll we’ll keep the job open for a couple of weeks. And we always have a pretty extensive process. We’ve we’ve we’re very inclusive, and making sure that whoever we bring into the organization is well …. So we’ll have multiple interviews, most likely perhaps some kind of hands on exercises for candidates to complete. So I don’t have all the details to share with you right now. But but just know that it will be rigorous, we feel that’s really important for on both sides. We want to make sure it’s a good fit for anybody. You know, that’s because it is a it’s a big move, especially for coming from outside the area. You know, it’s a it’s a big commitment. So we want to take our time and get it right. And we want to process to reflect you know, just to reflect that the need to fully vet that fit.

Kirsten Wyatt

Wonderful. And we’ll include links to your job page, and obviously the city page from this podcast episode page where we include the transcript and then you know, some some connection information for both of you. And so if you’re listening to this episode, you know, head over to the GovLove page. And we’ll have all of the the links for you for this position. And and as you mentioned or highlighted earlier, there, there’s more. There are more exciting positions open with the City of Bend. Could you tell us more about some of these other cool positions that you have open are coming open in the next month or so?

Stephanie Betteridge

Absolutely. So hopefully later this afternoon, our first thing Monday we’ll be posting our Central Services Manager position. And this this position is really aimed at supporting all of our central services in a fairly comprehensive way. So I mean, that’s your traditional you know, city administration, city attorney, fleet facilities, HR, IT, with a focus on managing helping to develop and manage budgets contracts, also to be part of the negotiation and management of franchise agreements and IGA’s as well as leading some of these city wide organizational improvement efforts. So a lot of excitement there. We’re also going to be posting a communications position. So if you have a passion for social media and videography, keep an eye out for that one as well.

Kirsten Wyatt

Wonderful. Well, thank you both for joining me on this episode and talking about not just your vision and work in Bend but then also how you’re thinking big and bold about new positions that you’re hiring for. But I do have one last question before we close out. It’s an important question. And you either can answer it together or separately, so it’s your call. But if you could be the GovLove DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

Stephanie Betteridge

Oh, I have one Eric, if you don’t.

Eric King

No. I and I’m gonna I’m gonna defer to Stephanie on this one.

Stephanie Betteridge

Okay, so one of the songs that just always reminds me of fall in Oregon is Matt Kearney’s “Coming Home”. I really think it celebrates the beauty and the spirit of our beautiful state. And I hope that inspires those of you who are listening to the podcast, to explore our exciting positions and consider calling Oregon home.

Kirsten Wyatt

I love that. That actually, sometimes people pick like funny or upbeat songs. But that’s very heartfelt. So I, I appreciate that choice.

Stephanie Betteridge

And we appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today, Kirsten, and all of ELGL for considering these really cool positions that we’re hoping that you have interest in.

Kirsten Wyatt

Wonderful. Well, thank you both for joining us today. This ends our episode. And I want to put in a personal note. Eric and Stephanie has been ELGL members, honestly, almost from the very beginning of this organization. And along the way, they’ve never hesitated to lend a helping hand, do an informational interview, or be of assistance to an ELGL member. They’re truly running an organization where they’re lifting up and supporting their employees and making local governments stronger. And so it really is my pleasure that they were able to come on today and talk about the organization that they’re building. And I highly encourage you to look into these recruitments that they’re running. You can head over elgljobs.com The job is posted there. You can also learn more about the city at bendoregon.gov. GovLove is produced by a rotating cast of ELGL volunteers. ELGL is the Engaging Local Government Leaders network and you can reach us at elgl.org/Govlove or on Twitter @Govlovepodcast. Thank you for listening. This has been GovLove, a podcast about local government.

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