2005-11-10 / News

Town administrator selection narrowed to three candidates

By Dotti Farrington

The Town Administrator Search Committee last Thursday gave the Town Council a list of three recommended candidates for new town administrator.

The Nov. 3 presentation was made at a special council meeting during which the information was given in executive session, as provided for under the state Open Meetings Act on dealing with personnel matters.

Town officials have revealed neither the names of the three finalists nor the identities of the 50 applicants who have been eliminated. Former Gov. Bruce Sundlun, 86, of Jamestown has identified himself as a candidate, but has been eliminated from town manager searches underway by both Jamestown and Coventry. Some speculation has surrounded the availability of Town Planner Lisa Bryer for the town’s top post, but it has not been confirmed, nor has her standing among finalists been revealed.

Town Council President David Long said that the special meeting was called because of the various schedules of individual officials, and that the goal was to proceed as quickly as possible to secure a new town administrator.

The finalists are due to be interviewed this week at a special meeting, also to be conducted in executive session. Another session might be needed for a second interview before the council votes for the top candidate. Long projected that the new town administrator would be chosen later this month. The council’s regular meetings are set for Monday, Nov. 21, mainly on water and sewer matters, and for Nov. 28, as well as a workshop on anti-noise laws on Nov. 15.

Long noted that Council Vice President Julio DiGiando was due to be away next week. Long also would be away Thanksgiving week, and Councilman William Kelly will be away part of this week. The interviews were scheduled to provide full opportunity for all of the councilors to participate, Long said.

The council president pointed out that the credentials of all finalists indicate they are of high caliber.

The search committee met at least nine times to consider the 53 applicants, and to interview an unspecified number of semi-finalists. Then in late September the committee notified 38 applicants of their elimination, based on scores under a rating system the committee had devised.

The voting committee members are Chairman Fred Pease, Lenore DeLucia, Robert Dolan, Gary Girard, Peter Shocket, Robert Sutton, and Ellicott Wright. Non-voting committee members are Town Clerk Arlene D. Petit and Jeff Hunter, a member of the Personnel Board. Two candidates reportedly withdrew after receiving offers and taking jobs elsewhere.

Search process

The committee agreed at its first meeting that it would follow the review process established a year ago to find a successor for Maryanne Crawford, who resigned to accept a higher-paying school administrative position in East Greenwich. The first committee chose Mark Haddad of Massachusetts, who resigned unexpectedly in June, he said, to accept an unsolicited higher-paying job in private business in Connecticut.

At its second meeting, the committee discussed issues about rating personal friends or Jamestown residents who had applied for the job. Members agreed to treat all “equally and weigh factors evenly,” giving no special preference to anyone, according to the minutes.

Committee members were also concerned about a recent legal action ruling that residency could no longer required for town employment. They decided to have the candidates present a plan for how they would respond to emergencies if they were not living in Jamestown. A subsequent local legal ruling recommended that the councilors try to negotiate residency, but they could not make it a condition of employment.

The town’s Home Rule Charter adopted about four years ago specifies that residency is required, but the new state law overrides town law.

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