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Ryan Waller, the current Indianola city manager, will take the reins of the fast-growing city of Marion.
Waller will serve as the chief executive officer of the city as its next city manager, its 250 employees and will manage an annual operating budget of $121.7 million, Marion City Council said Friday. He will start Nov. 29.
“It’s extremely exciting to join team Marion,” Waller told The Gazette Friday. “Marion has a tremendous reputation and there’s all sorts of great things happening. Going through the interview process, everyone was enthusiastic and welcoming to me so that’s exciting to be a part of.”
The city council plans to formally approve Waller’s employment contract at its next meeting. Waller’s annual salary will be $188,613.
Waller has served as city manager in Indianola since 2016. Before that, he was the assistant county administrator for Lake County, Ill.
His experience also includes being an assistant village administrator in Lake Bluff, Ill., and administrative assistant to the city manager in Highland Park, Ill.
Waller earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Iowa and his master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University.
“He will fit well with our city’s culture,” Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said. “He’s going to need some time to get to know the community and his team. He will have to learn our challenges and how best to address them, but he will also have to be able to capitalize on our opportunities … .”
Waller will fill the post vacated by Lon Pluckhahn, who left the job in August after 14 years as city manager, for a deputy city manager position in Vancouver, Wash.
In almost a decade and a half in Marion, Pluckhahn oversaw major economic development as the city’s population grew by more than 10,000.
Waller said that, leading up to Thanksgiving, he plans to do some “double duty,” working with Marion and Indianola during the transition period.
“There’s a number of things in Marion I want to get going on now,” Waller said. “Doing a lot of reading and touching base with community members and the leadership team, starting the relationship-building process … .
“I’ve been impressed with the quality of staff in Marion. They’ve been running seamlessly while the position was vacant and that’s a testament to the team and (Acting City Manager) Tom Treharne.”
Community Development Director Treharne has been acting city manager since Pluckhahn left.
During the city manager candidate town hall at the beginning of the month, Waller said he believes Marion’s population of just more than 40,000 is currently in a “sweet spot.”
“‘Reach Higher’ resonates with me,” Waller said of the city’s slogan. “When I spoke with Lon (Pluckhahn), he talked about everyone moving in the same direction and moving momentum and how you carry that forward … . It's all about people.
”How do you get the most out of people? You treat them kindly. You empower them.”
“I’ve had many conversations with him since then and my confidence in him grows every time we speak,” AbouAssaly said.
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