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Council selects Enumclaw administrator for county manager post | Update
The only candidate who owns property in San Juan County (a vacation house on Decatur Island) and the only finalist who lives in the state of Washington was selected Tuesday to be the new county manager in a unanimous decision by the County Council.
On the same day, May 21, Mike Thomas, 49, of Enumclaw, Wash., was extended an offer of employment at an annual salary of $120,000, plus a deferred compensation match of up to 5 percent of his salary and the usual public employee benefits. Thomas accepted the offer May 22 and will start work on June 24.
Interim county manager Bob Jean said he thought Thomas was a "great fit for San Juan County" and that he will be available to help with the transition, but expects to be relieved of interim duties by the end of June.
Since 2010, Thomas has been city administrator of Enumclaw, Wash., population 10,699. Before that, he was director of that city's Department of Community and Economic Development for five years. From 1998 to 2005, he was a senior policy analyst in the King County Executive's office.
Thomas graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in geography and then earned a Masters degree in public administration from Seattle University. He is married and has two children.
The county manager will replace the previous position of county administrator, a position originally created by the county charter, then eliminated in one of three amendments endorsed by the Charter Review Commission and approved by voters in November. That vote also reduced the county council from six part-time legislators to three full-time elected positions vested with both legislative and executive duties.
The duties of the county manager include assisting the new 3-person county council in overseeing the functions of local government and departments not managed by another elected county official, such as the sheriff, auditor or prosecuting attorney.
County Council Chairman Jamie Stevens said his decision focused on Thomas's "collaborative style" and familiarity with state law, especially related to Thomas's extensive experience with land use planning and the state's Growth Management Act. Stevens said he was also the top candidate of the citizens' committee and of the county employees' committee that for several hours last week interviewed the five finalists seeking the job.
One citizens' committee member told the council Thomas was "thoroughly professional and very approachable."
Stevens also mentioned "positive responses of citizens at the open houses" held May 13 on Orcas, Lopez and San Juan islands.