After 39 years in public service, Jon Ruiz, Eugene’s City Manager announced his upcoming retirement on October 18, 2019. Ruiz was appointed Eugene’s City Manager in April 2008 and served in that role for 11 and a half years, making him one of Eugene’s longest serving City Managers.
Prior to coming to Eugene, Ruiz served as the Public Works Director and Assistant City Manager in Fresno, California. He also worked for the City of Ogden, Utah, as Public Works Director and for the City of Fort Collins, Colorado. He received an MBA from the University of Colorado in 1988 and attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Senior Executives Program in 1999. Ruiz, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, also received a Master of Strategic Studies at the U.S. Army War College in 2000.
“I have carefully considered the timing of this decision, and it is the right time to begin a new season. Working with the community, the Council and city employees we have accomplished a lot in nearly 12 years,” noted Ruiz. “To have worked with a team willing and able to say, ‘can do’ to so much in so little time has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life.”
“Jon has been an extraordinarily capable and steady hand on the helm of the city over the last decade,” said Mayor Vinis. “He is leaving the city in a strong position for the future and we truly appreciate his service to the community.”
Shortly after his appointment as City Manager, the impacts of the Great Recession required Ruiz to lead the City through budget reductions of more than $30 million, almost a quarter of the City’s general fund operating budget. With a focus on maintaining services and employees, Ruiz utilized collaborative and creative approaches to stabilize the budget and keep the City’s AA1 municipal credit rating intact. In his tenure, Ruiz has also led the City through the completion of long range comprehensive land use and transportation plans, including the expansion of Eugene’s Urban Growth Boundary; a regional prosperity plan to increase jobs and average wages; a community safety initiative to build public safety capacity system-wide; and passage of local bonds and levies worth $132 million that have repaired roads, expanded library services, built new parks and enhanced recreation facilities and services.
Today, Eugene is poised to redevelop 16 acres of riverfront property into a new park and mixed-use neighborhood: fulfilling the long-held community vision of reconnecting the city to the Willamette River. After completing a land exchange with Lane County, a new Town Square is being designed that will re-establish the original public square created by the city's early founders and create a permanent home for the Lane County Farmers Market. In addition to a burgeoning tech sector, supported by high-speed fiber in downtown, new projects including the Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact and the 5th Street Market expansion are moving forward.
During his time in Eugene Ruiz co-founded the Veterans Housing Project, to provide safe, secure and affordable homes for veterans returning from overseas deployment. This project builds housing and community as volunteers work together to remodel abandoned homes, transforming lives and neighborhoods at the same time. In response to growing concerns about homeless youth Ruiz gathered a diverse group of community members to develop the 15th Night Movement. Focused on prevention, coordination and innovation, 15th Night leverages existing resources, a locally created smart-phone app, and broad community engagement to ensure our most at-risk youth stay in school and off the streets. In addition, his partnership with Operation 365, brought together Lane County, the City of Springfield, and local non-profit, St. Vincent de Paul with the goal to house 365 veterans in one year. The initiative not only met and exceeded that goal by housing 404 veterans that year, it went on to permanently house more than 860 veterans and was nationally recognized in 2016 by First Lady Michelle Obama.
In 2017, Ruiz was recognized by the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce with The First Citizen Award for his work with the community to address veteran homelessness, revitalize Eugene’s downtown, plan for Eugene’s long-term growth, and promote economic prosperity.
Mayor Vinis, who by City Charter appoints the interim upon a City Manager vacancy, intends to name Public Works Director, Sarah Medary as the interim City Manager beginning October 19. Medary is an ICMA credentialed manager and has 23 years of experience with the City of Eugene including nine years as Assistant City manager and six as the director of the Planning and Development Department. “Sarah has an in-depth knowledge of every city department,” Mayor Vinis noted. “Her experience, expertise, and strong relationships in the community and organization will provide a stable transition for the city.”