A key figure in the Marion government, city manager Lon Pluckhahn, will soon be moving to Washington state. Pluckhahn has submitted his resignation to the Marion City Council effective Aug. 2, and has accepted the deputy city manager position in Vancouver.
“Lon has been an asset to Marion and his expertise helped the City accomplish great things,” said Marion Mayor Nicolas AbouAssaly. “His work on economic development and support of quality of life initiatives have helped to make Marion one of Iowa’s standout communities. We wish Lon and his family all the best.”
Pluckhahn joined the city, population 32,000, in March 2007. For the last 14 years, he has served as the chief executive officer for the growing community, now home to more than 40,000 residents. He managed an annual operating budget of $121.7 million.
Based on the recommendations of Kirsten Fisher, Marion’s human resources director, the city council decided on Wednesday, June 2, will use both a professional search firm and an internal search, listing the job on the International City Managers Association (ICMA) website. Both options provide a national reach for candidates. The council also plans to review the current job description of a city manager and update it, if necessary.
It is likely an interim city manager will be appointed from an internal pool of candidates, as the search could take as much as four months. Pluckhahn said he had some names in mind and would bring his recommendations to the council as soon as possible.
Before relocating to Marion, Pluckhahn served the cities of Platteville, Wis. and West Liberty.
“Making the decision to leave Marion has been one of the toughest of my career,” said Pluckhahn. “It has been a privilege to be a part of this community and lead the city into the next stage of development. Marion is blessed with an exceptional team of leaders and elected officials that will maintain the momentum we have built.”
The city also has an opening for a deputy city manager, a position that has been vacant since the fall of 2019. The onset of the pandemic and then the Aug. 10 derecho delayed filling that position. Marion advertised the position locally and engaged with a search firm in February, said Fisher.
“We will not be using the same firm for Lon’s position,” Fisher said.
The city council decided on June 3, to close that process, and resume when the city manager position has been filled.
“I don’t think it makes sense to hire a deputy director without the new city manager having a say in that hiring,” said Grant Harper, city council member at large.