116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — After almost a decade and a half at the helm of Marion’s government, leading the city through major economic development as its population swelled by almost 10,000, City Manager Lon Pluckhahn is heading west for a new job as the community continues to recover from a costly pandemic and derecho.
Pluckhahn, who has been with the city for 14 years, announced his resignation Tuesday afternoon to take the position of deputy city manager in Vancouver, Wash. He will serve in his current role until Aug. 2, a news release said.
“Making the decision to leave Marion has been one of the toughest of my career,” Pluckhahn said. “It has been a privilege to be a part of this community and lead the city into the next stage of development.”
Pluckhahn told The Gazette that, when looking at his family’s future, a career move made sense at this time.
“My kids are all in high school and we’re thinking about what life looks like after they graduate,” Pluckhahn said.
He added that while looking for new career opportunities, there weren’t many to choose from in this state.
“There are just not that many opportunities to move up the ladder and stay in Iowa,” he said. “You pull down the list of places and that list is pretty slim.”
Pluckhahn has led the city through many new developments and projects, including the Marion police facility and the Marion Enterprise Center, the YMCA, the city’s fire department headquarters and the city’s purchase of the Marion Airport.
Most recently, he also helped lead the city’s recovery efforts through the COVID-19 pandemic and last August’s derecho, which devastated Marion and will cost the city between $30 and $40 million. The city currently has a short-term loan with Wells Fargo to help cover some of the derecho costs as it awaits federal and state reimbursement on cleanup projects. The loan is for up to $20 million over four years.
Pluckhahn said he has some projects he wants to finish before wrapping up his time in Iowa in August, including getting the old library site sold. Those dollars are to help fund the new and larger library — a project now underway after decades of planning and false starts.
He said he wishes he could stay to see all the city’s current projects through to the end.
“There’s some in the pipeline right now that I’d like to be able to see and I’ll make sure to come back and visit them,” he said.
When Pluckhahn arrived in Marion in 2007, the city’s population was about 32,000. He has seen the city’s growth shoot up to over an estimated 41,000 as of 2020.
Before locating to Marion, Pluckhahn previously served in local government roles in West Liberty and Platteville, Wisc. In his current role in Marion, Pluckhahn has served as the chief executive officer for the growing Eastern Iowa city with an annual operating budget of $121.7 million.
Pluckhahn previously applied for a position in Fort Collins, Colo., as the city’s deputy city manager and was a finalist for the job last November.
His current salary is $186,068 annually. According to the job posting, the salary in his new role will be between $184,652 and $239,802.
Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said Pluckhahn has been an expert and an asset in helping the city grow.
“His work on economic development and support of quality of life initiatives have helped to make Marion one of Iowa’s standout communities,” AbouAssaly said. “We wish Lon and his family all the best.”
The Marion City Council will hold a special session at 3 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the next steps in finding Pluckhahn’s successor.
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