Town Manager search: Round two completed

In Town Manager search
Fri, 07/14/2017 - 11:00am

“These candidates will be fully vetted.”

That is what Town Manager search committee ex officio Chair, and Town Councilor, Chris Willi told The Block Island Times about the five remaining Town Manager candidates. Willi said that there were six candidates, but one dropped out “for personal reasons.” Round two of the interview process was completed this week.

“The final candidates will have gone through a number of interviews” before being selected for the position, said Willi. To date, the candidates have gone through two rounds of interviews with the two search committees: a five-member town employee committee and seven members from the community.

The second round of interviews included a two-hour tour of Block Island by a volunteering member from one of the two search committees. The goal of the tours, said Willi, was “to get the candidates familiar with the island — to let them know what the environment is like.” He said the candidates have been advised that the summer is different than the winter on the island.

The search process began with 53 total applicants that were whittled down to 11 candidates, and now five. “It was a good response,” said Willi. “The search committees have done a lot of work. They took this process very seriously. They are two groups that represent the community.”

Willi said that the five finalists are all New England-based. “From Maine to Connecticut,” he said. “I think all of them are more than qualified to do the job.” He noted that he had “no concerns” about one of them stepping in to manage the town.

For confidentiality, the search committees will be disclosing their reports regarding the candidates to the Town Council at a closed session meeting scheduled tentatively for Thursday, July 20. Thereafter, the Town Council will begin interviewing the five finalists.

The Town Council met Monday, July 10, to discuss the search process moving forward. First Warden Ken Lacoste told The Times that it was a “brief meeting” to discuss scheduling, timeline and the interview process. “We’re going to try and get it done as expeditiously as possible,” he said, noting that interviews should be completed by the middle of August. “We don’t want it to drag on.”

“I’m anticipating a good outcome,” said Lacoste. “I have great expectations for the candidates — knowing they’ve been vetted by the committees. Knock on wood — I have hope that this will solve our (Town Manager) dilemma.”  

Second Warden Norris Pike said, “After we meet with the search committees we’ll move on to the interviews.” Pike said he was looking forward to interviewing the finalists, and that a new Town Manager should be in office some time this fall. “We’re in good hands in the meantime, with Shirlyne.” Shirlyne Gobern is serving as the town’s interim Town Manager.   

“We’re shooting for the second or third week in August to be done with the Town Council interviews,” said Willi, who noted that the goal was to have a Town Manager in office by Labor Day. Once the Town Council selects a candidate, a negotiation process would ensue, he said.

“I’m very happy with how the process has gone,” said Willi. “I think the community should be very pleased.”