Ashland Acting City Manager Getting the Nod from the Council for Manager “Pro Tem”

Cotta Gets Support to Become City Manager Pro Tem
By David Runkel
City Council set the stage last night for the appointment of Acting City Manager Subrina Cotta to the position of manager pro tem for an unlimited period of time.


Councilor Gina DuQuenne urged that the manager’s position be “posted” immediately with the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, but she got no support.  “We’re in good hands right now, we can kick this can down the road,” Councilor Eric Hansen said of the process for hiring a fulltime replacement for former City Manager Joe Lessard who resigned under pressure.


Noting the coming Christmas season, Mayor Tonya Graham agreed “we can wait to January to begin the process.”


Because the discussion took place during a study session, no official action was taken. At the suggestion of Councilor Paula Hyatt, Council will make Cotta’s position official at a December business meeting.  It will take effect Feb. 1.


The City Charter provides for the appointment of a manager pro tem “when the office becomes vacant.”  Another provision, however, states that “the Council must fill the office (of manager) by appointment as soon as practicable after the vacancy occurs.”


Although Lessard’s last day was at the end of October, his agreement with the city provides for him to be on paid administrative leave for three months through the end of January, thus the Council’s view that the position technically is not vacant until the first of February. 


According to the Charter, “the manager pro tem has the authority and duties of City Manager, except that a manager pro tem may appoint or remove department heads only with City Council approval.” 


Cotta has been deputy city manager for nearly two years. She holds masters degrees in political science and public administration from the University of Arizona and the University of Alaska. Immediately before being hired here, she was director of Administrative and Internal Services for 22 months for the Pueblo West Metropolitan District, an unincorporated part of Pueblo County, Colorado. In the position she supervised 14 people, she told Council in her letter of application for the manager’s position two years ago. 


Immediately prior to the Pueblo district  job she served for 21 months as interim strategic plan and performance administrator in the Office of Innovation and Sustainability for the Colorado Springs city government.  The previous seven months she was a legislative analyst for the Colorado Springs Council.


These  government jobs were preceded by three years as a running coach.  Previously she worked for short periods of time in the Lake County, Illinois, budget office;  the Pima County, AZ community development office; with a consulting firm hired by the city of Tucson, AZ, to advise on workplace opportunities for women; and as a management fellow with the city of Tucson. 


From October 2002 to August 2004 she served as a Persian Farsi linguist for the US Army.


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