City interviews potential parks and rec director

Candidates for the position of Newport Parks and Recreation Director met the public at a reception held on Friday evening, Jan. 10, at the Newport Recreation Center. From the left are Tim Fulton, Mark Baker, Craig Martin and Mike Cavanaugh. (Photo by Cheri Brubaker)

NEWPORT — The City of Newport invited the community to meet and offer input regarding the four candidate finalists for the city’s parks and recreation director.

After a comprehensive interview process, members of the public joined Mayor Dean Sawyer, city councilors and city staff at the Newport Recreation Center on Jan. 10 to speak with the candidates.

City Manager Spencer Nebel invited each of the candidates to introduce themselves.

Mark Baker from Columbia, S.C., spoke first.

“This area draws me,” he said. “It has everything — the coast, the mountains…” Baker added that he found the people he met “very authentic,” saying, “everyone seems to care.”

Baker cited his commitment to write grants and seek sponsorships in order to provide quality programming.

Mike Cavanaugh, currently the sports supervisor at the rec center, also hails from Columbia, S.C., though he has lived in the local community for six years. Cavanaugh confirmed Baker’s impression of Newport, saying it is “truly the friendliest town.”

Cavanaugh added, “I hope I get the opportunity to lead this department.”

Tim Fulton received a laugh when he announced that he was the third candidate from South Carolina, although his home was in Greenville.

“I believe in parks, and I believe in partnerships,” he said.

Fulton continued, saying of parks and recreation, “We are fun and games, but more than that, we’re connecting people.” He also noted his Oregon connection, a daughter living in Portland.

Craig Martin also got a laugh, but for not being from South Carolina. Martin has lived in Siletz for the last three years.

“I started my public sector career in a place like this,” he said of the rec center. “My first job was a lifeguard. I fell in love with the swimming and aquatics, coaching…”

Those attending the reception took turns speaking with the candidates. There were forms distributed to city council, staff and the public to provide input regarding impressions of the candidates and recommendations. 

Mayor Dean Sawyer indicated the hiring decision will be made by City Manager Spencer Nebel, and Sawyer believes Nebel intends to make that decision soon, “probably by the end of the week."

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