Oregon Cities

Vancouver city manager to retire after more than a decade

After steering the city of Vancouver through a decade of drastic change, City Manager Eric Holmes announced Tuesday he will retire this year.

Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes alongside Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle and port Commissioner Eric LaBrant on a joint riverfront tour workshop meeting.

Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes alongside Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle in this 2018 file photo. Holmes announced Tuesday that he will retire this year.

Molly Solomon / OPB

Holmes’s last day is Oct. 11. Since 2010, he has led the largest city in Southwest Washington and overseen marquee developments like the city’s bustling waterfront.

City officials will launch a national search to find Holmes’ successor, they said in the statement Tuesday.

In Vancouver, the city manager is effectively the city’s CEO — the top employee who answers to an elected board — and oversees everything from police officers to permit handlers.

Holmes, 53, rose to the position after spending three years in Vancouver’s economic development department. His three-decade career included stints with the cities of Washougal and Battle Ground.

“I have had the honor of working with multiple generations of elected leadership, exceptional talent across the City organization and built partnerships with community,” Holmes said in a statement announcing his departure. “I still have a lot to accomplish over the next several months and intend to see this work through.”

As city manager, Holmes consistently received strong marks. His $344,000 salary ranked him among the highest-paid public employees in the Portland metropolitan area.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle pointed to Holmes’ tenure — 14 years — as evidence of the job he’s done in a high-pressure job.

“Usually (city managers) last five years,” she said.

His tenure was bookended by major civic hurdles. The city had been enduring the effects of the 2008 recession when he took the helm. Years later, he helped guide the city through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the meantime, he helped spearhead the transformation of the city’s waterfront. That project developed an unused remnant of the region’s paper industry into a prized landmark. Oregon economist Josh Lehner called it the city’s biggest development of the decade.

“That’s all part of making downtown Vancouver an attractive place to live and visit,” he said.

Since Holmes’ arrival, Vancouver’s annual budget has grown from $400 million to roughly $850 million. Median home prices rose from $210,000 to $520,000 by December 2023.

McEnerny-Ogle said Holmes is leaving while the city still has big ambitions. The city is planning another grand makeover, for example, this time at several properties near the former Tower Mall.

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