Oak Bluffs moves to hire interim town administrator

Selectmen place ads to fill the office of town administrator. — Photo by Mae Deary

Oak Bluffs selectmen will begin interviewing candidates this week to serve as interim town administrator. Two names surfaced for the position at a selectmen’s meeting Friday, even before the job was advertised in newspapers.

Selectmen agreed Friday to appoint an interim administrator by August 9, and to place advertisements this week in The Martha’s Vineyard Times, The Vineyard Gazette, The Cape Cod Times, and the Boston Globe.

Michael Dutton, town administrator since 2006, will leave the job effective July 31, a departure negotiated with selectmen during a series of closed-door executive sessions. Mr. Dutton has been under fire over several controversial issues, including missed financial deadlines, a bungled special election, and a state investigation into the town’s bidding and procurement practices.

The advertisement submitted to The Times says the interim town administrator will work on a week-to-week basis for a period of approximately 12 to 16 weeks, to manage the budget, attend board meetings, manage personnel, and act for selectmen in the administration of town affairs.

The advertisement says the successful candidate may also be considered for a permanent position. The application deadline is July 29.

Naming names

At the Friday meeting, selectman Walter Vail floated the names of two people he said have mentioned interest in the interim position.

“One was given to me by (former selectman) Kerry Scott. I guess they went to school together,” Mr. Vail said in a telephone interview with The Times. “The other one came up, I’ve heard it from a couple of different people.”

One of those discussed at Friday’s meeting was Stanley Arend, whose family owns Samoset-by-the-Sea, an inn on Sea View Avenue.

Mr. Arend was a finalist for the town administrator’s position in 2006, along with Mr. Dutton. Two days before scheduled interviews, Mr. Arend notified the town he had taken a position in California and was no longer a candidate for the Oak Bluffs job, leaving Mr. Dutton the only remaining applicant.

In 2006, Ms. Scott was the only selectman who did not vote to hire Mr. Dutton. She advocated reopening the selection process and abstained from the vote.

The other candidate scheduled for interviewing this week is Donald Andrews, an Oak Bluffs resident, who once worked in the town’s finance department.

“I have no axe to grind for either one of them,” Mr. Vail said. “If there are other names out there, we will interview them as well, and then consider everyone. We know they’re going to apply, and we know they’re there. Why not get a head start? The sooner we can get through this process the better, but we don’t want to rush. We want to get the right person.”

State law governs the hiring of a town administrator. Chapter 41, section 108N of the Massachusetts General Laws gives the selectmen authority to enter into a contract and sets out the employment conditions they can negotiate with a town administrator. The law does not require a public advertising or interviewing process.