Claremont Council Picks New Manager

  • David Johnston (Maple Valley Reporter photograph)

  • Ryan McNutt (Sentinel & Enterprise photograph)

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 12/6/2016 11:40:07 PM
Modified: 12/7/2016 12:54:48 PM

Claremont — The City Council voted, 9-0, in a nonpublic session on Tuesday night to offer the position of city manager to David Johnston, the former city manager of Maple Valley, Wash.

Mayor Charlene Lovett made the announcement after the council’s nonpublic session, where it deliberated for about 90 minutes on the two candidates under consideration.

Lovett said the offer to Johnston is conditional upon successful negotiation of an employment contract and a background investigation, which will be conducted by Municipal Resources Inc., the firm hired by the council to facilitate the nationwide search.

Johnston was one of two finalists from an original applicant list of 38 candidates from 17 states. The other person under consideration was Ryan McNutt, the town administrator in Lancaster, Mass.

Lovett said she was unsure when Johnston would be able to begin employment in Claremont, assuming an employment agreement is reached. If Johnston cannot start by the end of the year, when City Manager Guy Santagate officially retires, Lovett said the council would consider options for the interim.

Prior to the search being conducted, the council agreed to set a base salary with a car allowance and retirement at $135,000, Lovett said. Santagate earned about $100,000.

Johnston served Maple Valley, a city of 25,600, from 2009 to May of this year and previously worked as either town manager or village administrator in Coal City, Ill., Westfield, Ind., and Rantoul, Ill. He holds degrees from Notre Dame and Indiana University.

Brian Rapp, a member of the screening committee that recommended Johnston, McNutt and four other finalists to the council, said on Tuesday night the council made a solid choice.

“He was well-liked by the people out there (Maple Valley) and seems to have a good grasp of what it takes to manage a municipality,” Rapp said. “I think this is exciting for the city.”

Another screening committee member, Lawrence Johnson, said McNutt and Johnston were, in his opinion, the “two best candidates.”

“I was very impressed with his depth of experience and accomplishments in Maple Valley,” Johnson said. “I feel he will do very well here.”

Deb Matteau, who also served on the committee that pared the applicant list to six finalists with the help of MRI President Alan Gould, called Johnston “very qualified.”

According to his resume, Johnston has handled budgets of between $7 million and $50 million in communities with populations ranging from 4,500 to nearly 26,000.

In Maple Valley, the budget of $29 million covered 45 full-time and 35 seasonal employees.

Attempts to reach Johnston by phone and email on Wednesday night were unsuccessful.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at
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