By Beth David, Editor
Fairhaven’s attempt to hire a Town Administrator has been stymied again. The town’s third try at hiring a replacement for former TA Mark Rees, who retired in January, 2021. Since then, Finance Director/ Treasurer/ Collector has been serving as the Interim TA in addition to her other duties.
A search last year ended in controversy when Ms. Graves did not make the finalist list, then Select Board member Keith Silvia insisted on giving her an interview. Then Mr. Silvia was barred from participating due to a conflict of interest because his wife was the Council on Aging Director, a position that reports directly to the TA. This left a stalemate between SB member Bob Espindola and then-chairperson Dan Freitas.
The process did not move forward, with some acrimonious discussions in the mix. Mr. Freitas was recalled by voters, and Stasia Powers replaced him. The town moved forward with a new process, but at the very end of the process, two of the three finalists withdrew, in November of last year.
The town reposted the position and the Screening Committee continued its work, and chose three finalists again: Jennifer Callahan, Angie Lopes Ellison, and Thomas Guerino.
The three finalists were on the agenda to be interviewed for a meeting this week, 1/31/22, with Mr. Guerino’s name crossed out. The board also scheduled a meeting on 2/1/22 with the two remaining names on the agenda. Then meeting was also canceled.
SB chairperson Bob Espindola said that Ms. Callahan also withdrew, citing personal reasons. He said that she also withdrew from Bourne, where she had been offered the position of TA. Mr. Espindola said the Mr. Guerino did not give a reason for withdrawing.
“Our process was we would need at least two,” said Mr. Espindola in a phone interview.
The board will discuss the options at their meeting on Monday, 2/7, unless a board member requests an emergency meeting,
Mr. Espindola said he expected Mary Alcardi from the Collins Group, the town’s consultant, to be available on Monday to advise the board on options.
He said there is a lot of competition for people at the TA level.
“It’s a tough market. It’s not just us. Other people in the municipal world are having trouble, too,” said Mr. Espindola, adding that the private sector is also having competition problems. “It’s just that there’s so much demand.”
He said he is open to listening to options.
“Anything is on the table,” said Mr. Espindola. “Anything any board member comes up with or [Ms. Alcardi] comes up with that’s something that could help, I’m open for suggestions. At this point, we just have to get something done here.”
A quick internet search shows that many towns in Massachusetts are currently looking to fill the top job, with many of the same names appearing as finalists.
Acushnet just hired an interim TA (see page 16).
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