After two rounds of job postings and interviews, the Framingham Town Manager Search Committee plans to bring a handful of final candidates to the Board of Selectmen in a month, said Audrey Hall, search committee spokesperson.
Whomever the selectmen vote in will take the place of former town manager Julian Suso, who left to manage the town of Falmouth Nov. 1. Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey is currently acting interim manager, with no intentions of throwing her hat in the ring for the full-time job, said Hall.
The search committee has been working with a consultant since late spring last year to post a job listing for the position, which first went live last fall, and then again this winter once the committee decided to expand the applicant pool.
After the consultant narrowed down the 30 initial applicants to the present nine resumes to the committee (originally 10, but one candidate dropped out), the committee then interviewed five prospects before asking the consultant to re-list the posting.
The second time the listing went live in December, the consultant whittled down 18 applicants to bring forth 10 job-seekers to the committee. Committee members will interview seven of the 10 candidates during closed-door meetings next week, Hall said.
“We are required to keep the names confidential and protect their confidentiality up until the point we officially identify them as finalists forwarded to the Board of Selectmen, and then their names become public,” Hall said.
Hall said that a couple of interviewees from the first round are still in the running, and that she does not know how many finalists will stand by the third week of March, when the committee presents them to selectmen.
Selectmen then have final say in who will step in as town manager, she said.
“Once we turn in the finalists, the committee’s work is done and the selectmen take over,” Hall said. “It’s up to them to pick the key person, if they feel they have the right person.”
She said while the committee is not moving slowly time-wise, members are taking time to thoroughly check into each candidate, despite some public unrest over the vacant position.
“Framingham is such an important hub in Massachusetts, and a person for that position has such an important role, so we just want to take our time and make sure we get the absolute best person for the job,” Hall said. “Hopefully that person will be there for a long time.
“We want to bring forth the absolute best candidates we can find for the position. That takes priority over expediting things.”
Hall said there was no way of knowing if the number of applications were relatively large, small, or average.
“People qualified [for the job] already work in local government, and sometimes elections change the composition of boards they report to, which influences things. Timing is very important,” she said. “We would rather have smaller pool of highly qualified people than a large pool with people not having the skills we’re looking for.”
Hall also said the magnitude of the town manager job slims the pool down dramatically.
“Framingham is the largest town in the state of Massachusetts, and requires a strong candidate,” she said. “We’re looking at people with the kinds of qualifications and skills that Framingham needs, so that could reduce the applicant pool to some degree.”
Hall said that some applicants have showed enthusiasm for the position, adding that Framingham offers certain experience that other towns do not.
“This requires more skill and experience and expertise than other communities throughout the state,” she said.
Hall said the right candidate would have a mix of skills in communication, management, business, strategic planning, and municipal experience.
“It’s all these skills coming together to be able to be successful in this position,” Hall said. “It’s such a great opportunity for someone ready to take all experience they had in their career, and use them in a community with great opportunity at a higher level.”
In a notice sent out on his last day, Suso outlined the peaks of working for Framingham for five and a half years, including working with department heads, the School Committee, and watching citizens interact with local government.
"As a credentialed professional municipal manager, I thank the Board of Selectmen for the opportunity you have afforded me to serve," Suso wrote. "It has been a privilege to work diligently on behalf of the Town’s taxpayers in maintaining the responsible cost-containment and collaborative management initiatives which have been underway through this unprecedented period of prolonged economic recession."
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org