City celebrates Conrad’s 30th anniversary
By ELIZABETH CELMS
Mercer Island Reporter Contributor
July 23, 2009 · Updated 12:39 PM
City staff and Councilmembers threw City Manager Rich Conrad a surprise on Monday, July 20, celebrating Conrad’s 30th anniversary with the city of Mercer Island. A number of renowned faces in local governance — both present and past — attended the surprise event at the City Council’s regular meeting. Legislative representative Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, showed up at the celebration along with former Mercer Island mayors Alan Merkle and Bryan Cairns.
City Mayor Jim Pearman congratulated Conrad and presented him with a scrapbook filled with 30 years of photographs, mementos and quotes of well-wishing from Conrad’s colleagues and those who knew him.
Pearman read a few of the more humorous quotes to the crowd gathered at City Hall for Conrad’s anniversary.
“It must be the hair. I mean, with all that distinguished grey hair, how could anyone doubt the wisdom and sincerity of whatever Rich says. Let’s just say that he’s the Samson of city managers,” Kirkland City Manager Dave Ramsey wrote of Conrad.
Humor aside, others had genuine words of praise for the city veteran.
“Thank you for all your service to Mercer Island. As one who’s lived here for five decades and can see the changes, and has seen the difficulties that public officials can face, I know a great one when I see one. You are a great one,” said state Sen. and former Island Mayor Fred Jarrett.
Conrad, who was visibly touched by the attention, thanked the city.
“It’s overwhelming. I don’t know what to say. It’s been a 30 year journey, and I’ve traveled it with all of you guys,” the city manager said. “I look forward to the many years to come.”
Conrad began working for the city of Mercer Island on July 23, 1979 as a research assistant to the city manager. He was promoted to assistant city manager in 1989, and has served as the city manager since 1996.
Among his job responsibilities, Conrad has been especially active in regional policy matters, including parks and pool transfers from King County, district court and jail services and the King County Budget Advisory Task Force. The City Manager has served on -- and chaired -- various regional boards related to affordable housing, public safety communications and the E-Government Alliance. He also served on the Suburban Cities Association Management Board and was formerly president of the Washington City/County Management Association.
An Island resident, Conrad lives on First Hill with his wife, April. The city manager has a Bachelor of Arts from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and a Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Washington.