May 4—Rochester's city attorney is moving back to Oregon after a little more than three years here.
"It was really a tough decision," Jason Loos said of taking a job as the Lake Oswego city attorney in a suburb south of Portland.
He said his family is looking forward to being back in the Pacific Northwest, but not necessarily leaving Rochester.
"It has nothing to do with the job here," he said.
Loos, whose last day as Rochester city attorney will be June 2, will start his new job on June 14.
Loos was hired by the city in 2018, replacing fellow University of North Dakota Law School grad Terry Adkins, who had served 27 years in the post before retiring.
Rochester Mayor Norton called Loos' departure "a huge loss."
"It just hit me in the gut," she said of hearing the news before it became public knowledge. "He was such a support throughout these last two years as mayor."
She said Loos has been a critical part of the city's COVID-19 response.
"He has been a solid support in attending all our (Emergency Operations Center) meetings," she said, adding that he's been a resource as the city has dealt with related staff issues, which included a hiring freeze that has left an open position in the city attorney's office.
"He's been that resource and support to go to for issues, knowing you will get a really solid answer," she added.
Norton also pointed to the city attorney's role in helping guide police policy revisions and the city's response related to people facing homelessness, two issues Loos dealt with in Portland.
"He had such a wealth of information from working on the coast that he could bring to help guide and provide an assurance that we are doing the right thing for the right reasons," she said, adding that he provides a mix of Midwest values and West Coast experience.
Loos said one of the biggest challenges he's faced in the past three years is reorganizing and updating city ordinances. He also has been involved in creating the city's Unified Development Code, which could be finished later this year.
Most recently, Loos has guided his office to help track where racial property covenants once existed in the city, and helped the city file a lawsuit related to its newest parking ramp.
— Mapping history: Project aims to bring light to racial covenants in Rochester
— Rochester files lawsuit related to alleged parking ramp deficiencies
Brooke Carlson, Rochester City Council president, said Loos' input has been an asset in a time of transition.
"Mr. Loos was key in supporting a successful transition for me into office," she said. "He provided stability with four new council members, a new city administrator, and a new city clerk. He is incredibly well regarded and will be missed. I know this was a hard decision for him."
The City Council has named Deputy City Attorney Michael Spindler-Krage as interim city attorney while the search for Loos' replacement is conducted.
Spindler-Krage has worked in the city attorney's office for 15 years, most recently as the criminal division supervisor before the office was restructured and he was named to the office's No. 2 spot.
City Administrator Alison Zelms said Spindler-Krage's interim position gives the city the needed time to "attract a talented applicant pool from near and far."
Rochester Human Resources will lead the recruitment, with the council involved, since the position is one of two city jobs that answer directly to the council.
"I'm confident we can find someone who is equally up to the task, and look forward to the process of determining who that will be," said council member Mark Bransford.