Portland’s well-regarded fire chief, Mike Myers, announced his resignation Thursday.
Myers informed Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty of his decision in the morning. The day before, Myers had attended Hardesty’s swearing-in celebration.
In an official statement, Myers said he was leaving to spend more time with his wife, who lives in Gearhart. Myers has taken a job as the emergency manager for the city of Cannon Beach.
“This is about my desire to be with my wife and keeping that priority above all,” Myers said.
Two sources who’ve spoken with the chief said his resignation was not related to the transition in power between Hardesty and former Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who hired Myers in 2016.
Myers met repeatedly with Commissioner-elect Hardesty and her transition team in December, according to his public calendar.
“I think he was excited to work with Jo Ann, and from what my understanding is, Jo Ann was very much excited to work with this fire chief as well,” said Alan Ferschweiler, president of the Portland Firefighters Association.
According to Ferschweiler and others, Myers has indicated that other factors contributed to the surprise resignation, including frustration over his lack of a contract with the city.
Portland’s bureau directors generally do not have contracts and serve “at will.” Eight bureau directors have retired or been forced to step down since Mayor Ted Wheeler took office two years ago.
“I had talked in City Hall about wanting to keep Chief Myers, and had requested them to look at some sort of a contract or something to give him some job stability,” Ferschweiler said. “Unfortunately they weren’t able to provide that for the fire chief.”
Ferschweiler said the lack of a contract was one point of frustration for Myers, but he also ran into challenges working with the city attorney’s office.
“The chief is a positive person. I do believe in his heart that he wants to be with his wife; he loves her very much. I do believe that,” Ferschweiler said. “I also believe there were some internal frustrations he has had.”
In a statement, Hardesty said she did not want to see Myers go.
“I am personally so sad to lose his leadership and friendship. His vision for a vibrant city was exactly what we need, and I am disappointed to not work on his plan together,” Hardesty said in the statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to recruit and retain leaders moving forward and make the City of Portland an employer of choice.”