Town manager Search Committee lines up candidates

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 6:00pm
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“There was a vote for moving ahead with eight, possibly nine, people who applied for the town manager position,” announced Search Committee Chair Margie Comings.

The vote had been approved in closed session, and was announced in open session at the Search Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 10 at Town Hall.

Jim Kern is currently the interim town manager. The Committee is undergoing a search process for a permanent successor. Former Town Manager Ed Roberge resigned in October.

The committee discussed the list of questions they have prepared for the interview process, not wanting to tip their hand before the candidates come in for the interviews.

The committee will meet at a later date to approve and finalize interview questions before interviews commence.

The committee moved forward to the next agenda item, to review and approve the candidate interview evaluation form.

“It is basically the same one that was used two years ago, and I think it worked pretty well,” said Comings.

The board motioned to approve the list of criteria for the candidates’ interview evaluation.

Setting dates for candidate interviews

Comings and the committee then went about setting up dates for the next round of meetings, as well as candidate interview dates.

“I know some of you will be away on vacation, so we want to be modest in direction in how we go about setting up the candidate meetings, and also we need to set a date for our next meeting... I would think a short meeting would be a good idea, because by that time we want to approve the interview questions, and this would be a chance for us to go through and to hear a report from Molly on how it’s all worked out. I think yes, a short meeting would probably be appropriate,” said Comings.

The board agreed to meet at a later date “to go over what [Town Clerk] Molly [Fitzpatrick] has heard back from various candidates as far as dates they are available, and approve the town manager interview questions. It will be a short meeting,” said Comings.

“My hope was that, between [March] 10 and the 25 or 26, we could get all of these candidates in for an interview. Does that look possible?” Comings asked.

The first round of interviews will be held at Town Hall. The committee will conduct interviews in person and via Skype; individuals who struggle with traveling to Rhode Island for the interview can interview over Skype. Member Amy Land mentioned Town Hall has the technology available for Skype interviews.

Fitzpatrick asked if the committee should Skype with all candidates for the first round.

“No, just for the far away people,” said Comings. “I would push for an in-person interview, except for those where distance is obviously a problem. I want to make sure no one is eliminated just because they can’t travel a certain distance,” said Comings.

Councilor Chris Willi mentioned candidates in the Rhode Island area should be expected to arrive in person for the interview.

The first round of interviews will be an hour long, with the second interview basically being a tour of the island.

“All the years in this business, you can come one time and be on your game and not be exactly the same person the second time around. I would want to see them twice,” said Vice Chair Jim Hinthorn.

“I think all the candidates appreciate [the tour],” said Willi.

Comings said the first round is getting to know each other, and the second one “we want to get down to the management and detail of the job.”

Fitzpatrick said she will “contact the candidates for an interview with them, either in person or by Skype.”

The committee agreed the interviews would be based around the ferry schedule and availability of committee members.

The committee will meet in early March for further discussion before the first interview takes place.

“We will have a meeting in March before the candidate interview, and at that point we will pick up these couple little details we haven’t taken care of tonight,” said Comings.