By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Willamina City Manager resigns, takes similar job in Independence

Kenna West
Kenna West

Kenna West has resigned as the Willamina City Manager, effective Friday, June 10. The City Council accepted her resignation at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

She leaves Willamina after five years to become city manager in the Polk County community of Independence, where she will start work Monday, June 27. The city council officially hired her at their Tuesday night regular meeting.

“It’s a sad moment,” Willamina City Councilor Craig Johnson said, regarding West’s departure. “She has gone above and beyond for us. The city that she is going to is going to flourish.”

Independence Mayor John McArdle and the city council expressed their excitement about West joining the administrative team following their meeting.

“Among the slew of capable candidates that interviewed for the position, Ms. West proved to not only have the experience necessary for the job, but she understands what it will take to continue making Independence a great place to live, shop and play,” McArdle said in a statement.

West replaces Tom Pessemier in Independence. He was hired in December 2018 and left the city in November 2021, moving to Tennessee. An interim city manager has filled in, leading up to the hiring of West.

West was one of two finalists for the city manager’s position in a neighboring Polk County community, Monmouth, in 2020, but removed her name from consideration to remain in Willamina.

Willamina Library Director Sarah Frost was appointed the interim City Manager. She will start June 10 and work in the position no longer than six months. Her salary will be $70,000 annually on a pro-rated basis.

“I just wanat to be part of a smooth and successful transition,” Frost told Willamina Mayor Bob Burr and the city council.

Burr said the city will be in good hands with her leadership.

She was previously identified by West as the senior management employee best able to act as her successor should the position have to be unexpectedly filled.

With an interim City Manager in place, Willamina will now begin working with the Mid-Willamette Valley Council og Governments on a recruitment process for a new full-time manager. The recruitment fee is expected to be about $9,400.

See Friday’s print edition of the News-Register for additional details.


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