County Commissioners convene to select leaderBoth finalists for the job of Clatsop County Administrator mingled with citizens at a public reception Monday at the Duncan Law Seafood Consumer Center.

The candidates - Jefferson County Administrator Mike Morgan and Warrenton City Manager Scott Derickson - came to Astoria for interviews with county commissioners, department heads and union representatives, followed by the public gathering.

Scott DericksonThe county commissioners were scheduled to make their final choice at a special meeting at noon today.

The two candidates were picked from 59 applicants for the position, which became vacant following the retirement of former administrator Jim Azumano last May.

Morgan, who has held his current job since 1996, said Jefferson County has weathered the effects of tax-cutting ballot Measure 47/50 and the economic downturn, and didn't have to lay off any employees during the last budget cycle.

The county recently built a new 156-bed jail, a project that was completed ahead of schedule and under-budget, Morgan said.

Derickson, Warrenton city manager since 2000, pointed to the new water treatment plant, sewer system improvements, DEQ compliance issues, land-use rules and other projects that the city has tackled in the last few years. Clatsop County is "going to a be happening place" with the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, which should provide new economic opportunities, he said.

Mike Morgan"I see tremendous potential in Clatsop County, and I would like to be a part of that," he said.

The Clatsop Economic Development Council is providing good work, and is on the right track with a planned commercial and industrial lands inventory, Derickson said. The county could benefit from more coordination between the various entities that are promoting economic development, he said.

Derickson said he has a good working knowledge of county functions, as well as professional relationships with many county officials.

Morgan said the interview process with the commissioners and staff showed a strong concern about finding a sustainable level of spending over the next several years.

On economic development, Morgan said there are things local governments can do, such as investing in streets, utilities and even parks, the "aesthetic infrastructure" that catch the eye of many business owners, and by streamlining permitting processes.

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