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Fleming resigns from county’s top post

Kitsap County will lose a familiar face next month when county administrator Malcolm Fleming will leave his position to become chief administrative officer for the city of Bellingham.

“I'm excited,” Fleming said, “although I'm sad to be leaving these good friends and colleagues.”

The big issue in Bellingham is the development of 137 downtown acres newly acquired by the city, which Fleming calls “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The Bellingham position has been vacant since September. After narrowing the initial applicants to a field of 30, the city invited four finalists in for a visit.

“He has excellent experience,” said Bellingham human resources manager Kathryn Hanowell of Fleming. “He knows about the state of Washington and is familiar with all the issues local government is facing.”

Hanowell said Bellingham Mayor Mark Asmundson has taken on the job’s duties and that Fleming’s presence would allow the mayor to leave the office.

“We have an activist mayor,” she said. ”He likes to be out there with the people.”

Fleming begins with the city in March at an annual salary of $103,032. Kitsap County currently pays him $106,787, but the Bellingham position includes extras like a vehicle allowance and increased benefits.

Fleming has earned the respect of his co-workers on all levels.

Fleming joined the county in 1998 to fill the newly created county administrator position. His ability to last since then is a credit to his resiliency, according to Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent.

“In this situation, most people only last two or three years,” she said. “He created this position, and that says a lot about his abilities.”

Lent hopes to fill the position by March, noting, “We already have some possibilities.”

“He's got a good management style,” said administrative coordinator Don Burger. “He’s very even-handed with people and makes them feel comfortable in the workplace. He has the ability to promote a positive work environment.”

Burger said Fleming is easily approachable if an employee has a problem or an issue.

“This is a great loss for Kitsap County, said personnel director Bert Furuta. “Malcolm has the ability to work with a diverse group of people. He’s been able to get departments to work as a team, which is difficult because different departments can have different missions.”

'“Malcolm is a very hard-working, intelligent public servant,” said county auditor Karen Flynn. “He’s provided necessary support for the commissioners in their day-to-day operations.”

The Board of Commissioners will informally discuss the position at its retreat next week.

A current county employee will fill the position while the county conducts a personnel search.

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