April 19, 2019 5:10 a.m.
A community reception for the finalists seeking the position of city manager in Roseburg drew few residents.
A gathering at the Public Safety Center on Thursday night had a crowd of around two dozen people, however all but a handful were city employees or members of the city council.
Those attending had about 50 minutes to chat informally with Paul Eckert and Brian Latta. Eckert is the city administrator for Gridley, California and worked previously in city management positions in Mount Shasta, California and Sioux City, Iowa. Latta is the city administrator for Harrisburg, Oregon. He was a planner for the City of Corvallis and for Clark County Washington before that.
In the second portion of the event, each candidate had about 20 minutes to talk about their background, why they want the city manager job in Roseburg, what they could offer the city, and related topics.
Brian Latta talked about his wife and children and said for him, family comes first, even before his job. Latta said his core values are honesty, integrity, doing what you say you will do, and being transparent. Latta called Roseburg a “resilient community” and said it appears to be a larger version of Harrisburg. Latta said he is proud of the work he has done in the economic recovery of Harrisburg. He said a focus for him is economic and community development and pointed to his work with lawmakers in Salem to see legislation pass that will help rural areas. In response to a question about the issues facing Roseburg when it comes to the homeless, Latta said the situation needs compassion, empathy, and help from everyone in the community.
Paul Eckert said he would like to improve the quality of life in Roseburg and help its “transition to greatness”. He pointed to work he was involved in in Sioux City to build a meeting center, a museum and to create a “destination community”. Eckert said he has budget and financial expertise, having dealt with a budget in Iowa that was 2 to 3 times the size of the one in Roseburg. He said also working in smaller locations in California has given him diverse experience. Eckert said he has 20 years in city management experience. Responding to the homeless question, Eckert pointed to work he did in Mount Shasta where 20 initiatives were put forward to deal with the situation. He said having a coalition and partnerships in place would help with the issue.
Mayor Larry Rich said the Roseburg City Council would likely make a decision on who to hire at its council meeting on Monday night.