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Selectmen to interview town administrator candidates

Date: 2/5/2015

WILBRAHAM – The Town Administrator Search Committee narrowed down its list of candidates from eight to five after an executive session meeting on Jan. 30.

The five candidates, pending approved background checks by the University of Massachusetts Boston Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management, would likely begin the final round of interviews with the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 9, Patrick Brady, chair of the Town Administrator Search Committee and a former Selectman, told Reminder Publications.

“We started with nine people, one withdrew,” he added. “We’ve whittled those eight people down to five. Our charge from the selectmen was to bring forward three to five well qualified candidates without ranking them because our job is to present a pool of qualified people and it’s the selectmen's job to pick one and offer that person the town administrator position subject to satisfactory contract negotiations.”

Brady said the search committee will likely meet on Feb 9, immediately preceding the selectmen’s meeting.

“We’ll meet in executive session while we review the background checks, then will come out of executive session and bring out three to five people that we think after the background checks are still well qualified,” he said. 

The names of the three to five candidates have not been publicly disclosed yet due to the search committee’s interviews being held in executive session, he noted. The final candidates would be revealed at the board’s meeting.

“We do not make a recommendation [to the board for one particular candidate],” Brady said. “We treat all the candidates the same as you would all you children. You love all your children, you don't love one more than another.”

Initially, the search committee received more than two dozen applications for the town administrator position, he noted. A total of 10 candidates were interviewed by the search committee. Each candidate’s interview lasted roughly 45 minutes and were given 20 question to answer.

“They went from being very general [such as,] ‘Tell us your strengths and weaknesses and why,’ to being very specific [such as], ‘Give us an example of a human resource problem you’ve run into in your experience and tell us how you handled it’ and those brought some very interesting responses, Brady said.

“We got some answers ranging from comical to tragic,” he continued. “But that’s just a day in the life of a town administrator.”

Brady said some of the initial applicants were from states such as Wyoming and South Carolina.

“Every [final candidate] is working in town government in one form or another and their educations are really quite diverse,” he added. “There were a number of advanced degrees among the finalists from master’s of public administration to MBAs (Master of Business Administration) to Juris doctorates. We were quite well satisfied with the quality of the candidates.”

Robert Weitz, former town administrator, held the position for more than seven years until his retirement on Nov. 3, 2014. William Fogarty, the town administrator before Weitz, was in the position for more than a decade.

According to the town’s final profile for the town administrator position, during fiscal year 2015 the salary range for Grade 8 of the town’s compensation plan for the position $84,881 to $118,832.

Brady said “the selectmen are free to move at their own pace,” in regards to appointing a new town administrator.

Interim Town Administrator Thomas Sullivan is not one of the candidates and he chose not to submit an application for the town administrator position, Brady noted.

“In my opinion, Tom Sullivan is well qualified to be the permanent town administrator but for personal reasons he did not put his name in contention but when asked to serve as the interim town administrator to guide the town through this period, he stepped right up and take care of business,” Brady added. “We really have the best of both worlds with Tom Sullivan at the helm.”