From a national applicant pool of 28, the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce’s ad hoc search committee has whittled down the candidates for executive director to three finalists from Northwest Oregon.

The committee hopes to send a recommendation to the chamber board by Oct. 1, said board President Steven Sinkler.

The cut-off date for accepting applications was mid-July.

“We’re looking for a much better fit than we’ve had in the past,” Sinkler said. “We don’t want another two-year hire.”

The search committee — composed of Sinkler; former board President Tracy Abel, who is chairing the committee; Christen Allsop, owner of Cannon Beach Yoga Arts; Gary Hayes, owner of Pelican Productions, Inc.; Wendy Higgins, general manager of The Ocean Lodge; Kathy Kleczek, owner of La Luna Loca; and Julie Walker, owner of Center Diamond Fabrics — is applying rigorous standards during the process.

Ideally, they would like to hire someone with experience in tourism, marketing and event planning, financial and budgeting experience, as well as previous involvement with a chamber of commerce or a city.

The committee has met all three candidates in person and “we were impressed with all of them,” Sinkler said, adding that “we may need to do more interviews to dig a little deeper.”

Since the previous director, Eric Johnson, resigned in May, the chamber has been overseen mainly by the board and Jim Paino, the administrative assistant at the chamber.

Johnson, who served as director for 19 months, was the fourth director to leave the chamber since 2009.

Sinkler attributes the high turnover to bringing directors aboard who end up being “poor fits for the community” — people who want to immediately change the way the chamber operates after stepping into the position, rather than learn from the business community before attempting to lead the chamber members.

Superlative communication and presentation skills are at the top of the list of desirable qualities sought in a new director, he said.

“We need a candidate that can go up to Seattle — to a chamber meeting in Seattle or a business leader meeting in Seattle — and sell Cannon Beach,” he said. “Or can go to Boise or Denver and stand in front of their chamber and their business leaders and say, ‘Come to Cannon Beach! Visit Cannon Beach! You’re looking to move your business? Move to Cannon Beach!”

If the committee recommends two or more names to the board, and the board cannot decide on a candidate, the chamber will host a meet-and-greet with the candidates and the membership, similar to what the city of Cannon Beach did earlier this month with the final four candidates for the city manager position, Sinkler said.

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