Independence is a full‐service City helping our diverse community achieve and maintain health, prosperity, safety, stability, and a desirable quality of life.
Independence, with a population of approximately 10,000, is a mid-sized city in Polk County, Oregon, on the western side of the Cascade Mountains. The city sits in the fertile Willamette Valley alongside a wide bend in the Willamette river, between nearby Salem, the state capital to the northeast and Corvallis, the home of Oregon State University to the south. Additional universities nearby include Western Oregon and Willamette, as well as Chemeketa Community College and Linn-Benton Community College. Portland is approximately an hour drive north and Eugene is an hour drive south.
There’s always something going on in Independence! From annual festivals to free movies and concerts in the park, farmer’s markets, great restaurants and fun shops, Independence has a host of fun places to go and things to do. The City actively cultivates a sense of belonging.
The Public Library serves nearly 100,000 patrons per year and the Cineplex entertains more than 130,000 annually. When Independence throws its Community Fiesta, 5-10,000 people show up. Nearly 2-3,000 will show up to see weekly summer concerts and outdoor movies in the amphitheater. When Independence honors the 4th of July with its Independence Days, 20,000 people come to town to celebrate. Designated a Playful City USA by the national recreation organization Kaboom, the community boasts four neighborhood parks and an almost 2.5 mile-long recreational greenway along the Willamette River. In addition, Independence is home to several sports fields which are used for formal and informal athletic competitions.
Independence has many engaged volunteers doing a whole host of community based activities. The City received national recognition earning the 2014 “All-America City” award for its many volunteer efforts: such as the Inspiration Gardens, a seven-acre garden complex that includes an education center and many hands-on opportunities spearheaded by the local Master Gardeners.
The City’s investment in MINET, a fiber-to-the-home broadband system has paid dividends in terms of job creation and has also allowed the City to become a hub for testing and development of smart agriculture and smart city technologies. Last year Independence won an international Smart Cities competition and partnered with an Italian firm to develop a virtual situation room to monitor our Independence Days celebration.
Additional partnerships have developed a farm-to-fork tracking project with Intel, and a sensor data aggregation and visualization system with Portland-based Seabourne. The City is leveraging tech connections to integrate more STEM education, technology, and innovation programs into local schools as well. Efforts like these have resulted in Independence being named the first “Innovate Oregon” city by the Technology Association of Oregon.
Independence welcomes you and makes you feel like you belong. Watch this great video to see more.
Independence is, in many ways, not unlike other small, rural American towns…with the exception that, over the past twenty years, this city has managed to build an atmosphere of transparency and trust in local government, a reputation for trying new things, a solid track record of getting things done and – what stands out most starkly to visitors – a community of exceptionally engaged residents. Throughout its twenty-year transformation, Independence has developed, and continues to develop, a community-wide human capacity that has enabled the City to harness the abilities of every resident to participate in the transformation of the City. This human capacity has been developed through a fundamental effort to develop Attitude, Engagement, and Alignment throughout the community.
It takes a lot to transform a City into something better. As the fourth fastest growing City in Oregon, Independence is an example of how thoughtful governance and community engagement can foster revitalization in a rural community. By giving the public a voice and allowing them to help chart a path for the community, the revitalization of Independence became a “community” project instead of a “City” project. In the last twenty years Independence has rebuilt its downtown streetscape, constructed an amphitheater, built a new library, developed new soccer fields, constructed a fenced dog park and running trail, created new community events, developed neighborhood parks, and countless other projects. In each case, the City leveraged creative partnerships and put the public front and center – identifying projects, helping raise money, advising on design choices, and celebrating the completion of each project.
Our vision is one in which Independence remains a vibrant, historic, riverfront, full service community that celebrates its unique multi‐cultural heritage and respects the environment while fostering a stable, diversified economy. It is, and will continue as, a community long recognized for its resident volunteerism and active participation; where neighbors know one another and take pride in their neighborhoods, parks, trails, and schools. Independence honors the past, celebrates the present, and embraces the future.
Inside City Hall
The City of Independence operates a Council Manager form of government. The City Council is comprised of six council positions, all elected at large to four-year terms. The Mayor is elected to two-year terms with current Mayor, John McArdle serving since 1998. The City Council is the legislative branch of local government and adopts laws called ordinances, sets policies, adopts the budget, levies taxes, and conducts public meetings.
The City provides a full range of municipal services, with the exception of Fire/EMS, which is provided by Polk County Fire District No. 1. Independence services are provided through the following departments: Administration; Building Inspection; Community Services; Economic Development; Finance; Human Resources; Information Services; Legal; Planning-Zoning; Police; and Public Works. The City employs 46 full time and seven part time/seasonal staff with an annual budget of $28.7 million.
The City Manager is responsible for the effective and efficient administration of the City, assuming full management responsibility, leadership, and accountability for all City operations including direct or indirect supervision of all employees. The City Manager conducts or coordinates, through department heads, departmental strategic planning efforts and other studies of City services to ensure they are provided in the most effective manner. The City Manager serves at the pleasure of the Council and is accountable for achieving policies, goals, and objectives established by the Council.
- Develop and maintain positive relationships with the Mayor, City Council, and City staff. Work to understand the current organization, culture and structure. Establish trust and encourage collaboration to prioritize and execute on achievable goals.
- Collaborate to complete the Independence Landing development – a $50 million public private partnership that will bring a 75-room boutique hotel, 120 multifamily residential units, and a 35,000 sq. ft. mixed use building.
- Lead and proactively engage the community in strategic, long term planning for the City’s 2040 Visioning process. Focus on the goal to become one of Oregon’s most dynamic downtown living, working, and recreational places regardless of size.
- Continue to build community connections and engagement as the City grows, fostering a culture of civic engagement, participation, and volunteerism. Identify opportunities to directly engage the Latino community and ensure the City and community are connected at all levels.
- Embrace technology innovation and work to make Independence a Smart Rural Community – a place that uses technology to create opportunities for everyone. Continue to be a hub for innovation and development of agricultural technologies.
- Execute on the Parks Master Plan with continued progress around parks, trails, connectivity, and waterfront initiatives.
- Facilitate and plan for residential development in the 250-acre Urban Growth Boundary as well as industrial development and redevelopment at various City locations.
- In partnership with the Mayor and City Council, further define and prioritize projects pertaining to Housing, Homelessness, Traffic, Water and Sewer upgrades, and the MINET Expansion. Consider the proper timing, planning, funding and community support to bring reality to these initiatives.
- Develop and maintain positive long-term relationships with neighboring communities. Effectively partner and look for opportunities to collaborate while protecting Independence’s identity and interests as the City continues to grow.
The City of Independence seeks a City Manager that is creative and innovative and brings a fresh, yet experienced voice and perspective to City initiatives. With a proven ability to move projects and initiatives forward, the ideal candidate will successfully guide the City through this exciting time of continued growth and transformation.
The City Manager has a strong history of developing effective relationships with elected officials and effortlessly partners with the Mayor and City Council to provide sound advice and guidance when necessary. A strategic leader and effective communicator, the City Manager values the opinions of others and encourages diversity of thought. Considered a calculated risk taker, the ideal candidate routinely supports innovative ideas and drives success. The preferred candidate is an active listener that values honesty and integrity and believes in fostering mutual respect at all levels.
A strategic thinker, the City Manager easily sees the big picture and long-term vision for the City. In addition, the preferred candidate understands the importance of building off a solid foundation and works to ensure infrastructure and service fundamentals are sound. With a financial mindset, the successful candidate has a strong background in strategic planning and execution. Knowledge of real estate and development would be advantageous as would a legal background. Additionally, the successful candidate embraces technology and innovation and utilizes both to drive efficiency.
A proactive leader, the City Manager creates a forward-thinking culture that encourages and supports collaboration amongst staff. The City Manager promotes an environment where creativity, communication, and customer service are highly valued. The successful candidate has a strong background in managing and empowering employees. The ideal candidate is fair, establishes clear expectations, and holds others accountable. A good sense of humor with the ability to laugh is essential.
The City Manager naturally develops positive relationships, establishes a high level of trust, encourages public engagement, and enjoys being an active member of the community. The preferred candidate maintains an understanding of the issues affecting the community and leverages that knowledge to drive decisions. The City Manager understands and appreciates public service, providing quality of life services and, above all, values a sense of community. Importantly, the ideal candidate is genuinely excited about the Independence community.
At least seven years of progressively responsible experience in municipal government, including five years of administrative or leadership responsibility. Strong managerial experience and the ability to work closely with the City Council is essential. An exceptional ability to develop effective partnerships is required. Bilingual ability in Spanish a plus. A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university or any equivalent combination of education and experience.