County moves to pick new manager
On Monday the Dukes County commissioners made public the names of the three men on the short list of candidates for the job of county manager. Providing their resumes took a few days longer.
On Saturday at 9 am the seven county commissioners are scheduled to interview Troy Clarkson of Falmouth, a former Falmouth selectman; Tom Bernardo of Chatham, a former Barnstable county official; and Russell Smith of Tisbury, a civil engineer and Vineyard legislative liaison.
The interviews will be held in the county administration building at the airport and are open to the public.
The job of county manager was left vacant following the resignation of Winn Davis, a Falmouth resident, from the job that paid him $79,194 annually to be the county's chief executive.
The resignation of Mr. Davis, who left his job on August 17, was made against the backdrop of an ongoing, thorough, and far-ranging examination of county government by a specially created county charter study commission.
The county commissioners picked the three finalists from a field of 12 candidates who applied for the vacant job. All have varied public and private sector experience.
In deciding on their finalists the county commissioners rejected the recommendation of their appointed selection committee that the county re-advertise the position because none of the candidates met the advertised criteria.
In July, the county commissioners began advertising for a new county manager. The qualifications included familiarity with and experience in Massachusetts government, ability to interface positively with diverse local governments, a bachelor's degree and five to seven years senior management experience, preferably within government, as well as strong financial management, personnel management and strategic planning experience.
In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Mr. Clarkson said that he thinks his municipal experience makes him a good fit for the job and he is up to the challenge.
According to his resume, Mr. Clarkson, a Boston College graduate, most recently served as an assistant to the mayor of Attleboro. He served as a Falmouth selectman from 1993 to 2005.
Mr. Clarkson wrote in his cover letter that his experience in senior levels of government provides him with "the financial, interpersonal and strategic planning tools to provide the leadership needed to balance the demands of the day to day operations of the county with the complexities of the charter review."
In a brief telephone conversation Wednesday, Mr. Bernardo said that he preferred to make no public comment until the county commissioners had had an opportunity to meet with him and speak to him directly.
In his cover letter, Mr. Bernardo, a former two-term Chatham selectman and speaker of the Barnstable County assembly of delegates, highlighted his business and municipal experience. "I have an extensive executive and administrative background running large non-profits and for-profit businesses," he wrote.
A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Mr. Bernardo has an extensive performance arts background and is a former professional actor. In August Mr. Bernardo, the chairman of the 2000 and 2005 Barnstable County charter reviews, was a guest speaker at a Dukes County Charter Study Commission forum on county government. He told the commission that county government must constantly justify itself and sell itself to the voters.
Mr. Smith, a familiar figure and the only Island candidate, is a graduate of Southeastern Massachusetts University, which became UMass-Dartmouth in 1991. In his capacity as a civil engineer he has worked on a number of municipal projects including sewering in Oak Bluffs and Tisbury. Mr. Smith is also the Island's legislative liaison, a paid position intended to provide good communication between the Island and State House lawmakers.
In a conversation with The Times Mr. Smith said that the Island is getting to be a smaller place as town identities give way to an overall Island identity. Mr. Smith said that change provides a growing opportunity for county services.
In his cover letter Mr. Smith stressed his community roots. "I am vested here and flexible," he wrote.
Generally, a request for copies of information submitted by finalists for a county post is pretty standard stuff. A telephone call and a fax often is all that is needed.
On Monday, The Times requested copies of the resumes of the three county manager finalists. Jennifer Randolph, executive assistant to the county manager, said she was too busy to copy and fax the resumes.
Ms. Randolph was out of the office Tuesday. She was asked to leave the file with Noreen Flanders, county treasurer and acting county manager, so it would be available for public inspection.
On Tuesday, Ms. Flanders was in a meeting and the file was not available for a reporter. Ms. Flanders later called Paul Strauss, county commission chairman, to tell him that she was going to check with a lawyer in the office of the Cape and Islands District Attorney before releasing the resumes and cover letters as requested by The Times.
Late Tuesday, The Times was told that the files were available to be picked up but would not be faxed. On Wednesday, The Times picked up five double-sided pages containing the resumes and cover letters (copies are available here).
The county charter adopted in 1994 and now under review provides for the county manager form of government. The charter delegates to the seven-member board of unpaid commissioners general legislative powers while giving the county manager full control over the county administration.
In many ways the county manager's title exceeds his actual authority over the departments and functions that fall within the county framework.
The county manager exercises direct supervisory control over his administrative assistant, the county rodent control officer, county beaches, health access, the county engineer, the veterans' agent, and a budget of less than $1 million.
In August, the commissioners named Noreen Flanders, Dukes County treasurer, to be acting county manager.
The seven county commissioners are chairman Paul Strauss of Oak Bluffs, vice chairman Leslie Leland of West Tisbury, John Alley of West Tisbury, Roger Wey of Oak Bluffs, Lenny Jason Jr. of Chilmark, Tristan Israel of Tisbury, and Carlene Gatting of Edgartown.