2005-12-22 / Front Page

New town administrator takes charge in January

Bruce Keiser hails from South County
By Dotti Farrington

Bruce Keiser Bruce Keiser Bruce Keiser, director of administrative services for the town of South Kingstown since September 1989, and a career government worker in Rhode Island since 1978, will become the town administrator of Jamestown, effective Jan. 16, Town Council President David Long announced Monday.

He said Keiser and the council reached an agreement earlier that day on a contract. Long did not announce the terms of the agreement, pending signing of the contract.

Keiser will succeed Mark Haddad, who was appointed a year ago and resigned in June to accept a job in the private sector.

Haddad had replaced Maryanne Crawford, who had been town administrator since 1997 and town finance director for four years and left to become a school administrator in East Greenwich. Veteran Police Chief Thomas Tighe has served as interim town administrator during the searches for both Haddad and Keiser.

Keiser, who did not apply for the Jamestown opening in 2004, said he decided to seek the job now as a natural progression in his career. He considered various opportunities and other openings “because I’m very selective” before he applied for the Jamestown position, he said.

Keiser said he applied with the knowledge and encouragement of South Kingstown Town Manager Stephen Alfred, whom he credited with much career enrichment during his service in that town.

Before South Kingstown

Keiser spent almost two years as the director of government services with the Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council before joining the South Kingstown staff. Prior to that, he was administrative assistant to the mayor of Pawtucket for nearly three years and senior planner for that town for seven years.

He graduated cum laude from Boston University in 1974 and completed graduate studies in public administration at the University of Virginia, earning a master’s degree and U.S. Public Service Fellowship in 1977. Keiser worked for a year as public relations director for United Way in Charlottesville, Va., before coming to Rhode Island to be a research assistant with the University of Rhode Island Bureau of Government Research. Keiser was born and raised in Pottsville, Pa. While at Boston University, he met Mary Ellen Gunning, whom he married 34 years ago. She was the stay-at-home parent until about five years ago, when she earned a teaching recertification and started work in the career program at Narragansett High School.

The Keisers are parents of three adult daughters, Elizabeth, a dance coach at Bentley College and manager for Bloomingdales in Boston; Erin, a textile designer in New York; and Emily, a thirdyear emergency medicine resident at Rhode Island Hospital.

The new town administrator plans to continue living in South Kingstown and make the 20minute commute to work in Jamestown.

Keiser describes himself as the primary cook at home, who loves the outdoors and gets excited about oceanfront and trails recreational options in Jamestown. He said his usual activities are surfing, skiing, golfing, biking, and running, all for general fitness.

He also likes reading historical novels and non-fiction, listening to music of his ‘60s generation and its derivatives, as well as traveling.

Self-perspectives

“I am confident that my varied career in local public service and graduate education provides a solid background to serve as an effective municipal manager . . . well-suited to meeting the needs” of the Jamestown community, Keiser said.

He referred to himself as a “generalist administrator and municipal planner. He said he has worked on a broad range of policy making issues and developed skills in consensus building with staff, town boards, and citizen groups. He is skilled in budget development, administration, financial management, personnel relations, policy making and implementing, he said.

In South Kingstown, he worked on growth management and resource conservation “issues that are critical to a community like Jamestown with significant scenic and natural resources,” he noted. South Kingstown “has been a leader in responding to growth pressures . . . and impacts of development,” he pointed out.

Keiser’s latest work includes focus on maintaining a stable tax rate during municipal service expansion, he said. He has been involved with economic development to expand and diversify the tax base and to promote costeffective service delivery, he said.

Most recent work

The new town administrator worked with the South Kingstown’s $19.8 million budget, dealt with 215 employees, which included negotiating with four unions.

Keiser co-ordinated the work of all municipal departments, provided policy analysis, developed grants, was media liaison, and provided staff support for various agencies, including economic development, waterfront advisory, village preservation and revitalization, charter review, and traffic and transportation matters.

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