CANNON BEACH — Jennie Messmer, Cannon Beach’s interim city manager, went into local government, quite simply, because she loves working directly for the people in her community.
“Cities are the closest level of government to the actual citizens, where you get to see the results of your work kind of day to day,” she said.
Messmer, who started work July 15, fills the gap between former City Manager Rich Mays’ retirement July 8 and the first day for a new city manager, expected to arrive in November. She will work up to 32 hours per week
The council has four months to find Mays’ replacement, according to the city’s charter. The city has received 40 applications for Mays’ job.
“I am thrilled and excited that I was offered the job,” Messmer said.
A graduate of Eastern Oregon University who studied business and psychology, Messmer retired in March 2013 from her job as the member services director at the League of Oregon Cities.
She has since completed two stints as an interim city manager – one for the city of Mt. Angel and one for the city of Wheeler – and recently served as the interim manager at the Port of Garibaldi.
“It’s funny: I was planning to take the summer off, but I first started going to Cannon Beach 28 years ago on my honeymoon, and we’ve gone there every year since,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite places in the whole world, and I just had to apply.”
She added that, if she were still at a point in her career where she was looking for full-time work, she would have applied for the permanent city manager’s position.
At Mayor Mike Morgan’s request, City Councilors Mike Benefield and Melissa Cadwallader oversaw the recruitment process for Messmer. They went through an informal network of associates that eventually led them to Messmer, who had to endure a two-hour interview of nine questions, Cadwallader said.
“Her demeanor was excellent, she was very straightforward in answering questions,” Benefield said, adding that “I’ve never heard such wonderful, glowing references from everyone we called.”
Messmer, who is working on the city’s ongoing projects, including the plans for the NeCus’ city park and the 58-acre South Wind property, as well as emergency preparedness plans and affordable housing studies – is responsible for supervising more than 30 full-time equivalent employees.
“I’m steering the ship (with) direction from the council,” she said. “Mainly, I’m being a good steward for keeping the operations going in the interim.”
Management is becoming an intergenerational aspiration in the Messmer family.
She and her husband, Rhine Messmer, have two children; their daughter, Megan Messmer, is an assistant city manager in Florence and her son, Jacob Messmer, is studying engineering project management at Oregon State University.
When she has spare time, Jennie Messmer enjoys quilting, camping and gardening with her family, and taking night walks along the beach, she said.
After her tenure as Cannon Beach’s interim city manager, she has another gig lined up as the permanent part-time deputy executive director at the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments. The organization wanted her to start sooner, but she made it clear that she “wasn’t going to pass up a chance to work in Cannon Beach.”
“It’s a gem of Oregon, and my goal will be to keep it running smoothly, maintaining the beauty that’s there and handing it over in good shape to the next person,” she said.
Her regular office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. She can be reached at 503-436-8050 and email@example.com
— Erick Bengel
‘It’s one of my favorite places in the whole world’
interim Cannon Beach city manager