City manager moving on

 

Last updated 7/26/2022 at Noon

SUE STAFFORD

After four years as Sisters City Manager, Cory Misley is leaving to accept a position with the Oregon Solutions team in Portland.

After four years at the helm as city manager, Cory Misley is leaving Sisters as of September 1 to take a position at Portland State University (PSU) as a project manager for Oregon Solutions.

The program Misley is joining is located at the National Policy Consensus Center in the Hatfield School of Government. Misley will be one of two project managers, with a total staff of 10 people in the project.

The focus of Oregon Solutions, a program of the governor’s office, is to create a collaborative government platform in a community to solve a complicated problem that has been identified by the community with the assistance of another PSU program, Oregon Consensus. They help the community identify what they want, similar to the visioning process Sisters undertook in recent years.

The Oregon Solutions team takes the identified problem and works with the community to find funding sources, identify necessary legal changes, and come up with new ways to solve a complex problem. Community members who will work with Misley’s team include federal, state, and local government officials, as well as representatives from local nonprofits, the business sector, and private citizens.

While his office will be at PSU, Misley will be doing some traveling around the state, as well as conducting meetings via Zoom.

“I’m excited to be going back to the greater Portland area after 10 years of living elsewhere,” Misley said.

Between college and work he has lived in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., La Pine, and Sisters. His family lives in the Oregon City area.

Misley shared that opportunities for career progression are limited in Central Oregon and, after three years in La Pine and four in Sisters, it is time to move to a larger job market. He believes his seven years as a city manager have been good experience to prepare him for the project manager position.

He is looking forward to being a member of a team and not “the boss.” After his more rural locales, he looks forward to time in the city, as he enjoys both the city and the country.

He is not completely bidding goodbye to Sisters; he is going to keep his house in town and use it as a short-term rental so he can come back for fun and adventure.

Misley believes he was fortunate to be offered the Sisters city manager position at 29 years old. He cares about Sisters and Oregon and thinks local government is a special place to work.

“I wish I could have engaged the youth/students more as it relates to government in general, and civics and their local government in particular. COVID didn’t help that, but I did have a chance to do some of it. More would have been great!” he said.

In four years, with two of those impacted by COVID, Misley, the City staff, and the City Council have been able to accomplish a great deal. Plans are underway for the new roundabout at Locust/Highway 20. The East Portal has been purchased from the U.S. Forest Service for a new mobility hub and transportation center, with planning underway.

A contract with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office established a four-person police force assigned to Sisters full-time. The Vision Project was completed, with implementation well underway. The Comprehensive Plan underwent an update to reflect goals and strategies in the Vision. Work has begun on streamlining and updating the City Charter. The City financial position has been strong every year. The Destination Management Organization (DMO) has been established, the search is underway for an executive director, and the doors will open as of November 1.

Despite COVID, City Hall continued to run smoothly. The staff has grown, with the addition of an associate planner, a code compliance officer, and a public works project coordinator.

Misley indicated the City staff is strong and competent, so no interim city manager will be necessary while the search goes on for Misley’s replacement. A recruitment firm will be hired to undertake the search process.

Misley had high praise for the City staff, who he said “cares deeply about the city and its citizens. They are experts in what they do, and they don’t have personal agendas” that get in the way of their jobs. He said all elements of Sisters’ city government are well balanced, with the City Council setting policy and goals, and the staff handling the day-to-day operations and finances, with citizen boards and commissions providing valuable input and decision-making.

As a staff, “we’ve been forward thinking, fair, and proactive, moving critical projects forward,” he said.

He pointed to the management of wildfire risk as a continuing concern, while pointing out the work being done by the City and its partners so the issue is front and center. The City Council made wildfire mitigation one of their goals. A committee of all the local agencies involved with fire issues is now meeting on a regular basis. Misley thinks the City could be involved with lobbying state and federal officials for funding and help with mitigation plans.

Two areas Misley sees as needing ongoing attention are innovative solutions on the issues of growth, and houselessness.

Misley says his greatest area of learning over the last four years involved the opportunity to sharpen and broaden his leadership skills. COVID was an unexpected curve ball that has required flexibility. He said that at times it has been challenging dealing with the high expectations of residents who have moved to Sisters after successful and important careers.

“I feel like I am handing the torch to the next person to be in this position. The top is on fire as it should be, but the handle isn’t burning,” Misley offered with a smile.

Misley’s last day at City Hall will be September 1. He starts in Portland the day after Labor Day. He will get acclimated for two weeks before a trip to Scotland, which has been planned for a long time.

 

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