Lincoln County welcomes new administrator
Facing a formidable list of capital improvement projects, the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners (BOC) has enlisted the expertise of Tim Johnson, a Portland native, who officially took the position of County Administrator earlier this month.
Johnson has a long career in public service, working most recently as an economic developer in the mayor’s office in Federal Way, Washington (suburban Seattle) where he spent the past eight years. His reputation for recruiting businesses, sparking interest in the city’s downtown and leveraging a variety of development grants and tools to build a diverse and sustainable economy. The commissioners decided Johnson would be a perfect fit for Lincoln County.
Commission Chair Claire Hall agreed – “Tim stood apart from other candidates due to his experience and background in project management. We have several capital projects on the list for the next few years. Mr. Johnson will be able to make those his top priorities,”
Mr. Johnson has an extensive history in development, as well as in local government. He worked for a time as the assistant city manager in the City of San Diego before taking the role of executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development District in northern California. He also worked extensively as a consultant assisting clients in the development of business loan programs and building strategies for everything from the reuse of a retired military base to the financing of a new National Basketball Association arena in Sacramento.
Mr. Johnson told the commissioners he had a desire to return home to Lincoln County. “I grew up in Portland but there are connections to Lincoln County from my childhood,” he remarked. Those connections are both experiential and familial. His parents honeymooned in Yachats. Family members were friends with former Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Charles Littlehales. Johnson’s childhood was filled with summer visits to the Depoe Bay area and exploring the Lincoln County coastline.
“I can reflect back on what it looked like here more than 50 years ago and say unequivocally that this area has done very well for itself,” said Johnson. “When you add up all of the elements here in Lincoln County, it makes for a very dynamic marketplace and real opportunities.”
The area’s growth has also created a challenge for Johnson that is experienced by most families trying to relocate to the region. With a shortage of housing on the market, his arrival on the job was delayed in part by difficulty finding a home. That search is still ongoing. No stranger to long hours, Johnson is anxious to get his living arrangements settled so he can focus on the work at hand. “I like to work 80 hours and more a week because by keeping my nose to the grindstone and keeping my focus on the goals at hand, that is how things get done,” he said.
Getting to know the county budget, familiarizing himself with the various county departments and introducing himself to both employees and other local leaders, are all on his immediate agenda. Commissioner Kaety Jacobson said she is looking forward to Johnson’s leadership when it comes to capital improvement projects which include a possible new county courthouse, animal shelter, a new emergency operations center and development of the Lincoln County Commons.
Johnson said he is interested in working with both the public and private sectors to leverage federal tools, like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Community involvement and transparency are high priorities for the administrator. Open, share, and participate are three words he describes as part of his “management mantra.” He also believes in treating every person with honesty, integrity and dignity. Those are likely values he learned from his mother, Doris “Dot” Johnson. Dot is 98 years old and resides in their family home in Portland. Asked how he could focus on his work while also lending his mother a hand, Johnson shared the advice his mother gave him – “The people of Lincoln County should be number one in your book and I will be number two.”