Battle Ground city manager is ‘settling into the rhythm of the city’

BATTLE GROUND — A typical day at the office for Battle Ground City Manager Jeff Swanson might look something like this: “I roll into the office, check my emails and my phone messages and check in with my executive team,” Swanson said. “I tend to have several meetings throughout the day, I meet with folks from the community, folks from other jurisdictions like my other city manager colleagues. Then, of course, there are evening meetings like council meetings and meetings with other organizations.”

Swanson was hired as Battle Ground’s new city manager back in March, officially assuming the role on April 1. His decision to apply for the job came after he was approached by former Battle Ground City Manager John Williams, who asked Swanson if he would be interested in applying for the job.

“It was really an honor to be asked to apply,” Swanson said. “I was shocked when I got the phone call when they told me I got the job. It had been a long day of interviews; there were a lot of very qualified candidates.”

Battle Ground Washington City Manager Jeff Swanson Washington News
Battle Ground City Manager Jeff Swanson has been in the role with the city for seven months now, and said he has been “settling into the rhythm of the city” and is getting to know the community. Photo by Joanna Yorke

After leaving his position with Clark County as the director of economic development to take on his new role as Battle Ground city manager, Swanson spent his first few months on the job transitioning from his economic development role and bringing that expertise to his new position.

Since July, city officials have been working on the city’s biennial budget, a process that Swanson said has been educational for him, though he did quite a bit of budget work during his time at the county. He also said he found some of the labor negotiations the city goes through to be educational and interesting as well.

The area of his new job as city manager that Swanson thinks throws him the biggest learning curve, however, is getting to really know the city of Battle Ground, and what the community wants and needs.

“The last seven months have consisted of a lot of getting to know the community,” he said. “I’ve heard from a lot of community members, collectively, that we need to figure out our identity, who we are as a city. We need to get that community vision. I’ve gotten some ideas of what that process might look like, with the help of community involvement and community outreach.”

Swanson said that he and other city officials have also been getting ready for the 2017 legislative session, which he said is expected to be a challenging legislative session for cities because of the education funding requirements from the McCleary decision. He said the major project that officials from Battle Ground, as well as officials from other cities around Clark County, will be asking the legislature for help with is the Paradise Point Well Field. Numerous cities in north Clark County have a vested interest in this $35 million water project, including La Center, Ridgefield, Battle Ground and others.

Other projects that the city of Battle Ground is already engaged in that Swanson said he is looking forward to this year include construction on South Parkway that is expected to begin in the spring of 2017; several Connecting Washington transportation projects along SR-502/SR-503; and the Discovery Clean Water Alliance sewer project.

In addition to getting out and about to get to know the community better, Swanson said he’s spent quite a bit of time out in the field learning about all of the different departments within the city, visiting the city’s parks, going on ride-alongs with personnel from the Battle Ground Police Department and more.

Swanson was born in Salem, Ore., and grew up in the Salem, Bend and Springfield areas. He attended Portland State University and received a bachelor’s degree in economics; a master’s degree in economics; a graduate certificate in environmental and resource economics; and a graduate certificate in computer modeling and simulation. He also recently completed his Ph.D. in system science.

Before taking on his previous position with the county as director of economic development, Swanson was first hired in 2013 as the railroad coordinator, tasked with managing the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad. A few months later, the position of director of economic development became available and Swanson assumed the role.

Swanson and his wife, Heather, have lived in Vancouver for almost 10 years with their two daughters — Janae, 12, and Kiera, 9.

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