Negotiations Underway to Hire Don Cooper as Yakima City Mgr.
During a special meeting Monday evening, the Yakima City Council selected Don Cooper as the next Yakima city manager. The City will now begin the process of negotiating a contract with Cooper. If negotiations are successful, Cooper would replace Dick Zais who retired earlier this month after serving for 32 years as Yakima city manager.
Cooper has over 30 years experience as a city manager in Colorado and Florida. In his most recent governmental position, he served as the city manager of Port St. Lucie, Florida from 1991 to 2010. Over that period, the city grew in population from 56,000 to 165,000.
In Port St. Lucie, Cooper also was involved in bringing a number of new businesses to the city including biomedical companies Tory Pines Institute for Molecular Studies and Vaccine Gene Therapy. Other significant businesses attracted to Port St. Lucie during his tenure were Digital Domain (which makes animated full length feature films), three call centers, and a Wal-Mart distribution center.
During Cooper’s tenure, Port St. Lucie ranked as the safest city in Florida with a population above 50,000 for seven consecutive years. Cooper and his wife Linda recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and have raised two children, Virginia and Ken. Cooper also has two grandchildren. Don and Linda are both excited about making Yakima their home and becoming part of the community.
“Don is a very experienced administrator, and we want him to bring his wealth of knowledge to Yakima to help our community move forward,” said Yakima Mayor Micah Cawley. “We had strong finalists and Don stood out among them. Now we will go through the process of working out a contract with Don and hope that we can have him on board as soon as possible,” said Cawley.
Cooper was one of 3 finalists for the job, all of whom were interviewed for the position by the Council, City department directors, and a community member panel on July 12th and 13th. Tim Hacker, who most recently was the city manager in Mesquite, Nevada, and Jim Payne, who worked as the city manager of Rio Rancho, New Mexico until earlier this year, were the other finalists.
The Council voted 5-2 in favor of negotiating with Cooper. Cawley, Rick Ensey, Dave Edler, Bill Lover, and Dave Ettl voted yes, while Kathy Coffey and Maureen Adkison voted no.