Mr. Mayor: Mt. Angel Chamber of Commerce names Andy Otte 2018 First Citizen

March 2019 Posted in Community, People

Mayor Andy Otte

By Steve Ritchie

Mount Angel 2018 First Citizen Andy Otte described his full daily schedule with a succinct sentence: “It’s nonstop.”

Otte has served as mayor of Mount Angel since 2013. He is also a volunteer with the Mt. Angel Fire Department with the rank of captain, and coaches all three sports seasons – football, boys basketball and baseball – for Mt. Angel Middle School. In addition, Otte has coached youth league summer baseball for the last nine years.

That’s an impressive record of community service, especially for a person who says he was “adamant” about not
moving back to Mount Angel when relocating from San Francisco in 2006.

Otte knew what to expect though when his wife, Shelley, overruled him about not living in Mount Angel.

“I told her that people are going to give me about six months, and then the phone calls are going to start happening. Shelley said, ‘what phone calls?’ Well, I said people will call and say ‘would you like to do this, would you like to do that’? The first call was from the
fire department.”

Otte went on to become Rookie of the Year, and two-time Firefighter of the Year. Otte is almost but not quite a Mount Angel native. He was born in Virginia when his father was in the Army.

The family moved to Mount Angel from Tillamook in the middle of Andy’s first grade year. He graduated from Kennedy High School in 1985. Otte, a four sport athlete in high school, said one of the highlights was his sophomore football season when the team made the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

“I played tight end and defensive end and I loved it. John Kuppenbender was the (head) coach, along with Randy and Mark Traeger and either Mike Stewart or Larry Wilkinson.”

Though he loved sports and was used to competing year-round, Otte said he decided to take one spring off from baseball and track.

“I regret it to this day,” Otte lamented. “It was a dumb decision. I didn’t even really get it off. Al Gregory was the school superintendent then, and he said if I wasn’t going to do a sport he was going to put me to work as an after-school janitor at St. Mary Grade School. And he did. True story.”

Otte went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from St. Mary’s in Moraga, California.

He returned home and worked in Salem for three years before going back to get his MBA from University of San Francisco. Otte chuckled when speaking about the fact he is from a largely Catholic town and he attended two Catholic colleges – one run by Christian Brothers and the other by Jesuits – even though he isn’t Catholic.

Otte went to work for Bank of America in San Francisco after he got his master’s degree. All of his nearly 20 years with the bank was spent in the merchant services business, doing a variety of things including risk management, managing tech projects and communications.

“The Bank of America grew their merchant business, but eventually sold it lock, stock and barrel, even the people except for me and one other guy,” Otte recalls.

“They wanted me to stay behind and work on corporate divestitures. Essentially, I worked myself out of job. I was a really expensive guy sitting on the organizational chart with nothing left to do. My number was up. I was one of 4,500 people they let go that day –Veterans Day in 2015.”

Halfway through his time with the bank, though, Otte said living in San Francisco had become too expensive of

a place to raise a family. With two youngsters at home, he began looking for options and was able to secure an offer from another company.

“I asked the bank to match the offer, but they said no. So I said, well, how about if I work from home and live wherever I want to? And my boss said OK! It caught me off guard.”

After the move to Mount Angel, Otte worked from home for nine years and got to spend much more time with his daughter, Miranda (now 14), and son Michael (now 12). He also notes, “That’s really what allowed me to start coaching. 99% of the people I worked with were all on the East Coast and so I worked East Coast hours, 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. our time. So I thought I might as well go coach if I had my afternoons free. It started out with just baseball and then it morphed.”

“Morphed” is an apt description.

Otte has now coached middle school baseball for 13 = years, and has coached 29 middle school sports seasons.

“It adds up quickly when you are coaching three sports each year,” Otte laughed.

He now works for the State of Oregon, managing tech projects at the State Data Center. He says, “They have been wonderful” in allowing him to work a flexible schedule and squeeze in mayoral duties and coaching.

“The (mayoral) workload ebbs and flows. If there’s issues that crop up at the city level or at the resident level it get busier. Right now it’s exceptionally busy because there is a lot of both.”

Otte said participating in the Oregon Mayors Association has been very productive for him. He values the relationships he has developed with mayors from major cities like Portand, Beaverton and Tigard. “It’s an amazing group of people from all walks of life. Everybody has different ideas and we get together and share those.

It’s been fun and enjoyable and hopefully brings some benefits back to Mount Angel.

“One of the things I got out of the mayors conference – and I stole it from another town – is that we have a student city council now. I stole that idea from Elgin, Oregon… It’s been awesome for the kids.”

While Otte says he enjoys serving in city government and the fire department, coaching young people is “absolutely” the highlight and the most rewarding of his community commitments.

Cutting back on coaching duties might be in his future, but Otte says, “I want to keep coaching football. I’m good for a few more seasons.”

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