‘I didn’t come here with an agenda,’ Hare takes over as interim manager

Wes Hare

Since officially retiring in 2017, after nearly three decades as a city manager, Wes Hare has taken on a city administration project in Tanzania and was the interim city manager in Toledo, OR in 2019.

Now, Hare has a different part-time project that he has immersed himself into.

Earlier this month, Hare was named the interim city manager of Keizer. His contract with the city is expected to last between six and 12 months while the city searches for a permanent replacement.

“It has been good being in Keizer and working with a lot of experienced people who know what they are doing,” Hare said. “It seemed like a good fit and so far it has been.”

Hare, who specializes in economic and community development and financial management, is replacing former Keizer city manager Chris Eppley, who resigned in April after discharging a gun from his office one month earlier — Keizer Finance Director Tim Wood was serving as the city manager pro temp since April.

Hare has experience in becoming a leader in the wake of an unexpected departure. Prior to accepting the interim city manager position in Toledo, the town was in the midst of enduring political turmoil as the mayor and two city council members were recalled in Sept. 2018 — the fire chief, city recorder and finance director also were fired or resigned that year.

“One of the things you have to do is to try and reassure people that we will get through this and recognize that the past is in the past and move forward,” Hare said. “It was a really good experience for me. It was challenging, there were some really difficult issues that they were struggling with over there, but I really enjoyed working with their staff and their council.”

After serving as the city administrator in Oakridge, OR for seven years, Hare moved to La Grande, where he worked as the town’s city manager from 1995- 2005 before becoming the city manager in Albany for 12 years. He said that being a city manager in a place like Keizer isn’t as challenging as being in a smaller town.

“In some ways, being the city manager in a small town is a more demanding kind of role than being a city manager in a bigger place, and the reason for that is because you have far more resources in larger organizations,” Hare said.

Hare also said the interviewing process with his interim job in Toledo was much different than the one he had in Keizer.

“There was quite the contrast with the process. I was asked to attend a Toledo city council meeting and they interviewed me and then asked if I could be there Monday,” Hare said. “It wasn’t exactly a competitive process.”

Along with his local managerial experience, Hare has served as an international development consultant and has gone to places such as Japan, Indonesia, Iraq, Croatia, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Morocco and Afghanistan on more than a dozen occasions. Hare said that his time serving in other countries helped him come back home and be a better city manager.

“I believe that the work that I was able to do internationally really helped me as a city manager. It really broadened my perspective on how to make things work and how to be a better city manager,” Hare said. “I was often doing the kind of work that I do as a city manager, where you’re sitting down, listening to people, hearing what it is that they are looking for, trying to figure out ways to solve problems and help make their lives better.”

Hare said that his most powerful international experience came when he traveled to Iraq for a seven-month trip in 2003 when he worked to try and establish local government within communities where the main need was access to clean water.

“There are some lessons that really get reinforced with direct experience. It helped me appreciate a lot of things that we take for granted in the United States,” Hare said. “You know you’re not going to go in there and suddenly turn things around or make a big splash and fix everything. But what I resolved to do is look for an opportunity to do something good for somebody every day,” Hare said.

Hare did the majority of his international work pro-bono, but did require payment when heading to countries that were considered less safe.

“My rule was that if I was going to get shot at, or if there was a high risk of that happening, I really thought I needed to be paid,” Hare said.

When it comes to the search for a new Keizer city manager, Hare will serve in an advisory role, but the final decision will be up to the city council.

“It may be the most important decision that the council makes, because you are entrusting your organization to someone and you don’t want them to mess it up. There is nothing worse than paying someone to screw up,” Hare said.

Hare doesn’t have specific goals and expectations with this position, his only focus is serving the people of Keizer in the best way he knows how.

“I didn’t come here with an agenda. I think it would be presumptuous to do that … There are things I know that I can help with and be of service. That is the agenda that I have brought to every job that I have ever had,” Hare said. “The city is paying me well. I want to earn that paycheck and the best way I can do that is being of service to the residents here.”

Hare’s salary is $14,153 per month, approximately $81.65 per hour.

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]