Kenai City Council members voted unanimously during a special meeting Wednesday to offer current Kenai Police Chief David Ross a new job title: city manager.
Ross was one of more than a dozen applicants for the position, which the City of Kenai began advertising in October. If Ross decides to accept the city’s offer of employment, he would take over for outgoing city manager Paul Ostrander, who announced in late November that he will not renew his contract with the city.
Ross has worked for the City of Kenai since 2001, including as police chief since 2016 and as a police lieutenant, police sergeant, investigator and patrol officer — all at the City of Kenai.
A graduate of Kenai Central High School, Ross holds an associate degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He has completed training and education at the Department of Public Safety Academy in Sitka and earned a criminal justice certificate from the FBI National Academy in Sitka.
Other applicants for the city manager position included Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank, as well as Elke Doom and Anton Graff, both of Michigan.
Ross told council members during his Nov. 17 interview that his experience overseeing the city’s police department, animal shelter and dispatch service helped inform his decision to apply for the city manager position.
“My first thought as I considered why I wanted to be the city manager is that I’m losing my mind and I’m crazy to even consider wanting to be the city manager,” Ross said. “Then I considered that I really have enjoyed the last 21 years of my time at the city (and) at the police department.”
In his capacity as police chief, Ross said he oversees the hiring and promotion of department supervisors and has tried to make those departments better public service agencies.
“I like what I’m doing at the police department,” Ross said. “If I can do that at a broader scale at the city manager’s office and have a broader impact on the city and the employees of the city in a positive way, then I’m excited about that because I get to continue doing what I think I’ve done well for the last seven years.”
When it comes to his way of doing business, Ross said it’s important to hire the right employees and to help them set goals that align with the goals of the organization. Helping employees identify their strengths and helping them use those strengths in their jobs is important, he said. He summed up his motto as: “empower your people.”
As city manager, Ross said he hopes to first become better acquainted with city council members so as to understand the direction in which they would like to see the city go. He’d also like to get caught up with the city departments he doesn’t directly oversee and get up to speed on some of the city’s big projects, like bluff stabilization.
The city council held a private meeting after interviews with all candidates were over before voting to extend an offer of employment to Ross. The meeting included Kenai Human Resources Director Christine Cunningham and City Attorney Scott Bloom in addition to council members.
Ostrander’s current contract with the City of Kenai expires on Jan. 9 and Ross told council members he would be able to start in the new role immediately.
The Kenai City Council will convene on Nov. 22 for contract negotiations related to the city manager position.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.