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After searching for nearly two years, Mount Rainier has hired a permanent city manager in Kourosh Kamali, director of the city’s Department of Public Works. The decision ends a recruiting effort that began in late 2019. Kamali has served as director of the city’s Department of Public Works since 2016.
Kamali was selected by a unanimous 5-0 vote of Mount Rainier’s City Council during a special session held July 17, 2021. His tenure as city manager will begin Aug. 2, 2021.
In an announcement hailing the hire released July 27, 2021, Mount Rainier officials credited Kamali with securing nearly $1 million in grants for city public works projects during his time with the city so far. Kamali was also praised for running his department under-budget for four consecutive years.
“He’s been extremely effective managing large-scale projects,” read a portion of a statement attributed to Mayor Celina Benitez.
“We had a bunch of good applicants but we felt that Mr. Kamali has shown, as a public works director, his competence and his ability to produce results and that he knows our city,” said Councilor Jimmy Tarlau. “We are excited about having somebody who actually knows the city and can start running as soon as he gets here, not anyone who has any kind of learning to do.”
If you’re being pedantic, Mount Rainier has had seven city managers since 2019:
City Council, perhaps stretching the definition of council-manager form of city government called for in its charter, most-recently authorized Benitez to serve many of the functions of city manager while Council searched for a permanent replacement for former interim city manager Latasha Gatling, who served November 2019 through April 2021.
Before Gatling, the city was also briefly managed by former chief of police Anthony Morgan, who served for about a month in October 2019 while the city searched for a replacement for former city manager Miranda Braatz, the last person in the role without “interim” in their title. Braatz resigned in September 2019 after losing the support of City Council. In between Braatz’s resignation and Morgan’s brief tenure, former Mayor Miles, plus Councilor Scott Cecil and Benitez – then also a City Councilor – also filled in as city manager at times.