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Breault, Knapik, Gibson among finalists for Wilbraham town administrator

Date: 2/12/2015

WILBRAHAM – East Longmeadow Town Administrator Nick Breault, Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik and former West Springfield Mayor Edward Gibson are among five finalists for the vacant town administrator position.

Interim Town Administrator Thomas Sullivan presented the town’s search committee recommendations, which also included Dana Reed, former town administrator for Bar Harbor, Maine, and Ithaca, N.Y., Chief of Staff Kevin Sutherland, at the Board of Selectmen’s Feb. 10 meeting.

Wilbraham is attempting to replace former Town Administrator Robert Weitz, who retired on Nov. 3, 2014.

“We’re recommending all of them as qualified to serve as the next town administrator,” Sullivan, also a member of the search committee, told the board.  “We came up with five well qualified candidates and it’s basically up to you to decide which is the best fit for the town of Wilbraham.”

The University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management initially procured 23 applications for the position and pared the list down to 12.

The search committee determined the finalists after conducting interviews with nine candidates via Skype and in person. The votes for the five finalists were “unanimous or near unanimous,” Sullivan pointed out, adding the search committee would not recommend one candidate over another.

Knapik announced on Jan. 1 he would not run for reelection and has been pursuing new employment. He also interviewed the town administrator position in Walpole on Feb. 4, but was passed over for in favor of interim Town Administrator Jim Johnson.

The Wilbraham selectmen did not set a date for final interviews. The board agreed to host a “meet and greet” session at which the finalists would give presentations and get acquainted with members of the prior to interviews. Sullivan said he would begin working n coordinating a date.

If Knapik resigns prior to July 1, a special election would take place with the winner completing the remainder of his term. After July 1, City Council President Brian Sullivan would be appointed as acting mayor.

Knapik’s announcement has sparked new interest in the mayoral seat with Michael Roeder, whom Knapik defeated in the 2013 election, and Sullivan, supported by Knapik, announcing their candidacy.

Breault has also been looking for other employment. He is also a finalist for the town administrator position in Sturbridge.

Gibson, currently the town administrator in Becket, was West Springfield’s first mayor, serving the town for 11 years. He was succeeded by Gregory Neffinger, who won the November 2011 election over Gerard Matthews.