City attorney top choice for top post

PHOENIX — The City Council has chosen city attorney J. Ryan Kirchoff as a finalist for city manager.

“We have made a tentative choice, and we are doing a thorough background check and working through that,” said Mayor Jeff Bellah following a special council meeting Friday afternoon.

Kirchoff emerged as the top choice among four finalists selected from 10 applicants. He would replace Steve Dahl, who was fired by the council for undisclosed reasons May 2 after nearly three years on the job. Planning Director Matt Brinkley has been filling the post on an interim basis.

Kirchoff, who has a law firm in Grants Pass, has represented the city for three years. He has been a licensed attorney for 13 years and has represented other Oregon municipalities, including Cave Junction.

The council will meet in an executive session tonight at 6 to consider employment of a public officer before the regular meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Public Works Office, 1000 S. B St.

Earlier this month, the council hired a new public works director and a new finance director.

Raymond DiPasquale, currently public works director in Clatskanie, is expected to start his new job in Phoenix in October. DiPasquale will receive $90,000 in compensation annually. Before working for Clatskanie, he was in private engineering practice, Bellah said.

“We wanted a public works director with an engineering certification,” said Council President Bruce Sophie. “It will be the most cost-effective to do that (engineering) in-house as opposed to contracting it out.”

Interim Finance Director Janette Boothe was selected to fill the position permanently and will retain her post as city recorder. Boothe has been with the city since 2010. She worked for local accounting firms for three years after obtaining a business administration degree from Southern Oregon University in 2007. She will receive $72,500 in compensation annually.

Former Finance Director Steve Weber resigned in May to take a similar position with the city of Central Point. The public works position had been vacant since January, when Superintendent Ken Caldwell’s employment ended by mutual agreement, officials said.

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at

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