Centralia council thanks police chief for service as he accepts Chehalis city manager position

Stacy Denham will assume his new role on June 1


After beginning the search for a new city manager late last year, the City of Chehalis announced Monday, April 22, it has selected Centralia Police Department Chief Stacy Denham as the next administrative leader of the city.

The city began its search after former Chehalis City Manager Jill Anderson announced she was retiring last November following more than seven years in the position. Now 60, Anderson plans to enjoy her retirement in Chehalis with her husband, who is also retired.

Since Anderson’s last day on April 16, Chehalis Public Works Director Lance Bunker has been serving as the interim city manager and will continue to do so until Denham officially starts in his new position.

“The Chehalis City Council is excited to announce their agreement with Stacy Denham, who will assume the role of city manager starting June 1, 2024,” the City of Chehalis stated in a news release. “We eagerly anticipate the fresh ideas, dynamic leadership and strategic partnerships Mr. Denham will bring to help us propel our city into a promising future.”

Anderson’s annual salary while she was city manager was $166,161. Bunker is currently under contract as interim city manager for $12,973 a month, according to Chehalis administrative assistant Rebecca Gallagher. Denham said his annual salary will be $170,000.

Denham has lived in the Chehalis area for over 30 years and was employed as a Chehalis police officer for over 12 years before being hired by the Centralia Police Department.

He now has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience and has been with the Centralia Police Department since 2006, when he started as an officer. He was promoted through the ranks to chief of police.

Denham has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and public administration from Liberty University and an associate degree in criminal justice from Centralia College. He is also a FBI National Academy graduate.

The Chronicle spoke to Denham at the Centralia City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 23, about his new job.

“It’s hard to say what to expect, because I have a lot of people telling me what I should expect, but I had that when I became a chief,” Denham said. “… Everything has to be evaluated first, and I’ll take the time to make sure I understand the culture, the people, their abilities, before anything transpires from there.”

Members of the Centralia City Council thanked Denham, who has been chief since 2020, for his service during Tuesday’s meeting. His official last day as chief will be May 31.

“Congratulations to Chief Denham. You’ve built a strong culture here, and what we just saw with the swearing in is a good example of what you’ve created for us,” Centralia Mayor Kelly Smith Johnston said after new police officers were sworn in. “I know you’ll go on to create healthy and great rituals at Chehalis as well. We will miss you, but we’re glad you’re going to continue serving in our community.”

In the news release from the city, the Chehalis City Council thanked everyone who participated in the new city manager hiring process.

Denham was one of two finalists for the city manager position after a third dropped out at the beginning of April.

The other remaining candidate was Peter Boyce. Boyce has almost 25 years of experience working in city and county governments.

He was most recently city administrator for the City of Woodland for over seven years. Prior to that, he was with the City of Gladstone, Oregon, from 2008 to 2015, where he first served as assistant city administrator, then city administrator for over six years.

Boyce was also county administrator for Wabasha County, Minnesota, and served Anaconda and Deer Lodge in Montana, first as clerk and recorder, and then as chief executive officer. He has a bachelor's degree in technology and business development from Montana Technological University.