City of Burien turnover not a concern, city manager says

There has been enough turnover in Burien’s key government positions over the past year that some people started asking the usual questions, from “Why are they leaving?” to “With all this turnover, how much is city productivity hindered?”

Some specific examples of people leaving include the retirement of economic development manager Dick Loman (replaced by Issaquah’s EDM Dan Trimble), public works director Larry Blanchard (recently replaced by Maiya Andrews) and a shift for Burien’s management analyst Jenn Ramirez Robson to the interim director for New Futures. The vacant analyst position was filled last month by Nhan Nguyen – formerly of the White Center Community Development Association.

As to why people left their positions (or were asked to leave), there are laws protecting them from having those reasons aired publically, and Burien City Manager Mike Martin said he holds tight to that guideline.

In terms of productivity when Burien has a vacant position, Martin said, “You just make due, that’s what you do.”

“We are a small organization,” he said of the Burien government, “so when you have leadership positions leave, it creates a vacuum that needs to be filled.”

Martin said each case is different but, for example, when Loman retired Martin stepped in and took on much of the economic development role himself. When Blanchard left as the public works director, Martin said he had someone in the parks department with knowledge of the position help out until a replacement was found.

“The city manager is supposed to be the jack-of-all-trades,” Martin said, explaining his role in filling the gaps when a small organization “without much redundancy” has vacancies.

While Martin said he couldn't go into specifics on why people left their positions, he assured Burienites that "the organization is very healthy," with good employee morale and the ability to attract and hire quality candidates.

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