Paine saying goodbye to administration role

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. – Jackie Robinson

This quote sums up Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine, not just because it was said by a baseball player, but because it so accurately describes all of Paine’s professional life.

Paine has spent all of his career serving others.

Even in the very beginning.

After growing up in Bakersfield, CA, Paine started out in the military. He started out in the state of Washington where he served for almost three years. He worked as a public information officer.

“That experience has proved valuable in my line of work. As a journalist, I know you need to know five things who, what, why, where, when and how. Having gone through defense information school, I am not intimidated by press. So then if you aren’t intimidated by the press, then you can help them do their job and get the story out that you want to get out,” said Paine.

That knowledge helped him build positive relationships as he went on to work with the public and try to have the most impact on changing lives for the better.

After almost three years in the military where he learned a lot of valuable lessons and skills, Paine moved on and began his life of public service.

He served various terms in multiple places in Arizona, California, Idaho and Kansas. In all of these places, Paine encountered people who both surprised him and who he surprised as well.

He liked to learn things about the towns that helped him understand how things worked and gave him creative solutions for problem-solving that maybe others hadn’t thought of. Sometimes not knowing things helped Paine go further than he realized.

“In one town, after I been there for almost five years, someone told me that no one had ever stayed that long. I guess what I didn’t know didn’t hurt me,” said Paine.

While Paine learned much of the city administrator job from just doing it and from coworkers and other people in the field, some of it he just had to learn on the go. For example, early on in his career, he walked into the city building where his office was located on the first day and walked right past a room that had been blocked off with yellow tape.

“The clerk had embezzled and we were left with almost nothing. So I got out some basic business books and I started with a basic budget and went from there. Some days we just paid what we could for that day and then did the same thing the next day,” said Paine.

Eventually, Paine and his staff figured it out and got the budget back up to where it needed to be. Paine learned just how much he could problem-solve when he needed to.

He still counts that experience as one of his biggest accomplishments.

Paine has learned a lot of the years in this business. But one thing sticks out above the rest.

“The thing about this business is you are always surprised by something. And it usually isn’t what you think it will be,” said Paine.

Through all of his stories of all of his different positions over the years, the theme that comes through is the people and the relationships. He consistently talks about the people he served. From the residents of his communities to the mayors to the council members.

None of the accomplishments he mentions, even when asked to brag about them, come back to reflect on him but are more stories about a process or a lesson he learned. He says that is the way the career goes, but it also seems that it might be how he just is.

“We don’t get letters of appreciation from people in the community. We have to get our recognition for the work that we do from knowing what was and now what is. You have to be able to not worry about having someone come up and say “good job.” There are people that do that, and I am very thankful for that because they are the exception to the rule and they have a bigger view of the community than most people do. But I know at the end of the day, that I can stand before God and hear ‘well done good and faithful servant.’ That is why I do this,” said Paine.

Toward the end of the interview, Paine again brought up his favorite Robinson quote.

“That sums up my career…so they (residents) can do their thing and live in their community the way that they want to.

Paine did mention his cancer that he has dealt with at the tail end of his career. He was diagnosed with kidney cancer in January of 2018 after collapsing when he and Mayo Lou Thurston were attending meetings in Topeka. The cancer had metastasized in Paine’s heart and his right kidney had to be removed. He had to step down for several months in order to focus on his health. Even now he continues to receive treatment every other week.

He stated that Mayor Thurston was very supportive through all of it.

“Lou has been the type of boss that I have always wanted,” said Paine. “Lou and Delores (Dalke, former mayor) have both been amazing. I can’t think of two better mayors to end my career with than them.”

Paine also mentioned that is has been an honor serving with the current council and those who have served before them.

“They have been amazing. I just get to be the hands and feet of this group,” said Paine.

Paine has been working with the new City Administrator, Matt Style, who will be taking his place. Paine and Style have known each other for close to a decade so they have enjoyed this time of interaction.

“Helping Matt transition from a candidate into an employee has been fun,” said Paine.

After his last day on June 30, Paine plans to still live in Hillsboro with Susan, his wife of almost 49 years. They do plan to travel around to see new places as well as their two children and their grandson.

He is ready to just enjoy life for a bit after working so much for so long. But first he is going to finish out his last few days.

Paine wrapped up his administrator’s report last week at his last City of Hillsboro meeting reminding the Council that he has led for the past almost 13 years, “What we do every day in our organization has a very important impact on at least 3,000 souls.”

And Paine has modeled this for Hillsboro every day that he has worked here and will continue to model this for his last few days on the job.

“I was taught that you give your job your all until 5 p.m. on your last day and that is what I plan to do here, too,” said Paine.

The City of Hillsboro is hosting a retirement party for Paine via Facebook Live on Monday, June 29 from 2-3 p.m. where you can watch the party and leave a note of congratulations to the City Administrator. And if you can’t make it to that, you can always see him around town to give him your good wishes.