The city of Ashland announced today that Mayor John Stromberg has appointed a Portland resident with a business background as the new leader of both the Ashland Fiber Network and city electric department.

The city of Ashland announced today that Mayor John Stromberg has appointed a Portland resident with a business background as the new leader of both the Ashland Fiber Network and city electric department.

Mark Holden worked most recently as the general manager and chief executive officer of Quantum Communications in Redmond. He also served as the chief information officer at Central Electric Cooperative, also in Redmond.

"I'm pleased Mark has accepted our offer," Stromberg said in a statement. "I believe he is the right person with the right skills for this complex job assignment and also is someone who will fit with the City staff and the community."

The appointment must still be officially confirmed by the Ashland City Council Tuesday. If confirmed, Holden will start work in Ashland on Sept. 4, city officials said.

Holden will lead AFN in his role as the city's director of information technology, while also doubling as the head of the electric department.

For several years after it launched AFN in the late 1990s, the city had one person serving the dual function.

Faced with stiff competition from the private sector and higher-than-anticipated costs, AFN sank $15.5 million in debt. The city of Ashland then hired a person in 2006 to serve only as AFN's head. That, coupled with a spin-off of AFN's money-losing cable television side, stemmed the financial bleeding. AFN still operates a high-speed Internet service.

AFN has been without its own leader since 2010, when its most recent director left to take another job.

The electric department has been without its own leader since 2009, when its director left for a new job.

City of Ashland Finance and Administrative Services Director Lee Tuneberg has served as the head of information technology and the electric utility since July 2011, city officials said.

"I am grateful to Lee and the staff in finance, electric and IT for all their work and patience these past months," Stromberg said.

In his new role, Holden will earn an annual salary of $99,749, according to an employment agreement between Holden and the city of Ashland.

— Vickie Aldous