Thomas gets nod as city administrator

During a 20-year career in government, Mike Thomas has closed in on a goal of someday handling the day-to-day operations of a city.

The mission was accomplished the evening of Jan. 11, when Thomas was unanimously confirmed as Enumclaw city administrator. The recommendation was forwarded by Liz Reynolds, who was presiding over her first council meeting as mayor, and approved by the seven members of the City Council.

Thomas was promoted from his position as director of the city’s Community Development Department. That arm of government is responsible for the city’s planning, permitting, zoning and code enforcement functions.

Reynolds said she favored Thomas for the city’s head job “because he has a diverse set of job skills.”

Additionally, she liked the way Thomas has interacted with other department heads since joining the city in November 2005. A final selling point was his familiarity with city issues and his ability to hit the ground running.

In the end, Reynolds said, “it’s all about the right fit.” She said other department heads had volunteered their opinion that Thomas would be a good candidate for the job.

The city administrator position came open in November when Mark Bauer announced he would be leaving Enumclaw to take the city manager’s job in nearby Edgewood.

Thomas said his career path led directly to his new job.

“I like to do different things,” he said, “and this was a great opportunity.

“I really like Enumclaw. It’s a great community and this seemed like a natural fit.”

Thomas, a Puget Sound native and University of Washington graduate, worked for three cities in a planning capacity before landing with the executive department in King County government. There, he worked on policy issues and served as a liaison between the county and its suburban cities until joining the ranks of Enumclaw department heads.

As city administrator, Thomas is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the city, following a direction set by the mayor and council.

“My job is make sure everything goes smoothly,” he summarized.

That’s a huge task in all jurisdictions during these times of constant budget constraints.

“It’s going to be a real challenge,” Thomas said, noting that Enumclaw’s 2010 budget saw eight employees eliminated and another four having their hours reduced.

“The real task this year,” he said, “is to do a good job of providing all our crucial services with the resources we have.”

Reynolds believes Thomas has the ability to help achieve her goal of wrapping up some of the many projects in which the city is involved. During her campaign for mayor, Reynolds complained the city was “a mile wide and an inch deep.”

One of the city administrator’s chores, she said, will be “to take our ‘mile wide’ and take it down to a quarter mile.”

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