Mayor Severns picks new city administrator



Oak Harbor’s new city administrator comes from a small Wisconsin city that was once a retreat for the rich and powerful and, much later, a place where such bands as Cheap Trick and Nine Inch Nails recorded music, according to the city’s website and Wikipedia.

Oak Harbor Mayor Bob Severns announced Tuesday during a council meeting that he selected Blaine Oborn for the job.

Oborn is currently the city administrator of Lake Geneva.

The council confirmed Severns’ choice.

“I learned by spending some time with him … that he is a kind and gentle person, but firm,” Severns said, “and I think that he’ll be a good leader. I think the department heads will appreciate him.”

Doug Merriman left as Oak Harbor city administrator in February for reasons Severns has not publicly explained.

Oborn will earn $148,000 annually, plus benefits, according to city documents.

A total of 67 candidates applied for the job and three candidates were interviewed, according to the city.

In a telephone interview this week, Oborn said he’s thrilled to be headed to Oak Harbor. He said the area is beautiful and that he is impressed by “a lot of active city leaders.” He will be moving to Whidbey Island with his wife.

Oborn said he met with department heads when he visited and told them his first job will be to listen.

“One thing I’ve learned is don’t change for change sake,” he said, “and build upon what’s already there.”

In his cover letter, Oborn explained that Lake Geneva has a population of 8,000 that swells to as much as 40,000 during the tourist season, “making the complexity that of a much larger city.”

Prior to Lake Geneva, Oborn was a city administrator in Rhinelander in Wisconsin, village administrator in Kronenwetter in Wisconsin and city administrator in West Virginia. In addition, he’s also worked as a community college professor, an interim budget manager in Sacramento and an accounting supervisor at the University of California, Merced.

Oborn has a master’s degree in public policy and administration and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, both from California State University, Sacramento.

“I have been acknowledged as an innovative leader,” he wrote, “with demonstrated ability to improve government finances, be innovative, establish new programs, collaborate with other to improve a community, and provide leadership and vision to governing bodies and staff.”

Oborn plans to start the new job Aug. 16.

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