Portland Commissioner Nick Fish is looking for a new chief of staff – OregonLive.com
Hannah Kuhn, Commissioner Nick Fish’s chief of staff and one of the most senior leaders inside city government, is leaving Portland politics.
The 48-year-old confirmed Thursday she is leaving her post as Fish’s top political adviser to spend more time with her husband and travel. Her final day at City Hall is Feb. 6.
“Life is short, and there are some other priorities that are important to me too,” Kuhn said.
Fish posted a job opening on Mac’sList on Jan. 22. The new hire will be Fish’s fourth chief of staff. Kuhn succeeded Betsy Ames (who since moved to the Portland Office of Management & Finance), who followed Sam Chase (current Metro Councilor).
The commissioner said Kuhn’s decision to leave City Hall was “a big loss for me, for the office and for the city.” Fish lauded Kuhn for being one of the most knowledgeable, respected, and competent staffers inside city government.
“I’m enormously grateful that she devoted five years of service to my team,” he said. He particularly credited Kuhn for recruiting and mentoring several members of his staff.
Chief of staffs in Portland’s commissioner form of government play a pivotal role. They meet each week to discuss policy with the top policy advisers for the other four City Council members, keeping everyone up to speed on potential upcoming legislation and hammering out policy.
Kuhn’s tenure in the building dates back to Mayor Vera Katz’s administration. She was hired in 2002, and went on to work for Mayor Tom Potter to manage Portland’s Measure 37, the land-use compensatory initiative, program. She also worked for the Portland Bureau of Transportation and Portland Public School District.
Fish credited Kuhn for her work in his unsuccessful 2004 City Council campaign. In 2008, she joined Fish’s staff after “he twisted my arm pretty hard.”
“She’s been indispensable to my political journey,” Fish said.
She left city government for a more than a year sabbatical in 2009 before returning at Fish’s request.
He credited Kuhn with helping develop the 2011 tree code and helping forge a compromise on building permit reform legislation.
Kuhn said Fish’s office is “poised for some really great stuff,” citing Fish’s successful reelection last year and the utility reform measures underway in the wake of the failed public utility district ballot fight.
Kuhn, who is fluent in German, said she’s not fully retiring from the working world. “My dream would be to have another job overseas,” she added. Her husband Bill McNamee retired from his federal government job in 2009.
Fish said he suspected that Bill’s retirement would eventually play a role because they like to travel so much. “When she gets bored, the door is open,” Fish said.
She stressed that her departure is on good terms, and Fish asked her to remain involved in his “kitchen cabinet,” the informal network of non city hall advisers.
Fish said he hoped to hire a replacement within a month.
The position pays $81,994 – $108,992, according to the job listing.
— Andrew Theen