Mayor hires Ohio official as Issaquah city administrator
September 16, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 9:55 a.m. Sept. 16, 2010
The next Issaquah city administrator is a plainspoken Midwesterner and the longtime city manager of a Cincinnati suburb.
Robert “Bob” Harrison — the city manager in Wyoming, Ohio, for the last 12 years — has accepted the No. 2 position at Issaquah City Hall.
Harrison, 42, emerged as a leading candidate last week during closed-door interviews with community leaders and city department chiefs. Mayor Ava Frisinger announced the appointment Thursday morning, and the appointment heads to the City Council for confirmation Monday.
Harrison is due to start in Issaquah on Oct. 11.
“I am thrilled to appoint Bob as our next administrator,” Frisinger said in a statement. “His dedication to environmental excellence, fiscal stewardship and community involvement — demonstrated by his impressive career in city administration — are a great match for our community.”
Harrison inherits a role defined by Leon Kos, the city administrator for 33 years. Kos retired in April, and the city launched a search for a successor weeks later.
Harrison serves as the top appointed official in Wyoming, a city of about 8,000 people located 10 miles northeast of Cincinnati. For about 18 months before the Wyoming appointment, Harrison served as the city manager of Mosinee, Wis. — then a city of 4,000 in north-central Wisconsin.
“My family and I were looking for the perfect opportunity to move to the Pacific Northwest,” Harrison said in a statement. “Issaquah’s natural beauty, engaged community, impressive schools and bright future made our search an easy one. We look forward to becoming active members of the Issaquah community.”
Harrison is the father of five children, ages 15 months to 13.
Harrison cited a love for the outdoors and a commitment to environmental sustainability as reasons for applying for the Issaquah post.
“I tell you, I get in trouble if I use plastic bags at the grocery store,” he said during a community forum at Tibbetts Creek Manor on Sept. 7. “My wife reminds me I’m not supposed to do that.”
Under Harrison, Wyoming received the top recycling rate in Hamilton County, promoted ultra-“green” development, earned a top bond rating and ranked as a 2010 All-American City Finalist.
Leaders named Harrison a Citizen of the Year in 2003 — a tribute he mentioned in the remarks at Tibbetts Creek Manor.
“We’re not doing this for money, we’re doing this for a higher moral purpose, which is to truly serve our residents and the community in which we live,” he said then.
Harrison lauded residents in Wyoming and Issaquah for community involvement.
“In terms of community, I have had the benefit working in a highly democratic community — with a little D,” he said. “When I look at the core values here in this town, you guys are really engaged. I’ve had that opportunity to have a really engaged citizenry who are very involved, and that aren’t shy about letting you know what their themes are, letting you know what they think and the direction that the community ought to go.”