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Konkel rounds out city administration

The search is over. Or rather, the searches, plural, are over.

Elray Konkel was selected Wednesday as the city’s new director of finance and administrative services. His hiring ends more than a year of turnover in the city administration, a period that has also seen changes in city administrator, police chief and planning director.

“There’s a sense of relief that I’ve experienced,” Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said. “We really made it through it, and I really like the people we’ve brought on board. They’re all veteran, pro managers, and that’s already making a difference for us.”

Konkel, 55, was recruited from the city of Corona, Calif., where he serves as assistant city manager. He has over 21 years of experience in governmental accounting, finance and administration, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

He describes himself thusly: “I’d like to say I’m the finance guy who, if you asked people down here, they’d say, ‘He’s not your typical finance guy. He’s not the green-eyeshaded bean-counter.’ I just want to be a good manager.”

Konkel entered the public sector comparatively late, having spent his 20s and much of his 30s as a restaurateur and playing bass guitar in a blues and hard rock band.

After going back to school, he began his finance career as an auditor for Moreland and Associates, CPAs, and spent time as assistant finance director for the city of Glendora, Calif., and director of finance for Pomona, Calif.

In 1991, he was named assistant finance director for the city of Corona, and was promoted to his present post in 2001.

Konkel’s family includes wife Sharon, and daughters Alicia, 13, Amanda, 15, and Ashely, 19. He has friends and relatives throughout the Puget Sound area, and he and his family have visited the Northwest regularly.

He decided a year ago to look for another municipal post, after he and his wife tired of living in California’s “Inland Empire.”

“It’s almost lunacy to me, the crowdedness of it,” he said.

Earlier this month, Konkel was the finalist for the post of city manager of Salem, Ore. But officials there were slow in actually offering him the job, so he took the Bainbridge position instead.

Kordonowy said Konkel’s experience in municipal government “will be an asset to the city as we continue to refine procedures and establish solid financial systems.”

Konkel succeeds long-time finance director Ralph Eells, whom the mayor moved into the new post of budget manager earlier this year. The finance and administration directorship has been held in the interim by A.J. Hausler.

Konkel’s first day at City Hall will be Aug. 16, “just in time to lead the city in the 2005 budget process.”

Konkel said he has already made an offer on a home in the Miller Road area, and will be joined by his wife and two youngest daughters immediately.

He did, he said, enjoy walking around downtown Winslow when he came up to the island for interviews.

“I swear, I don’t think I passed anyone who didn’t say ‘good morning’ or ‘hi,’” he said. “I was beaming. In California, we tend to not even know our neighbors.

“I felt like you could just walk on and on, and people would accept you.”

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