UPDATE: Board of Selectmen Vote Stoughton Resident to be Interim Town Manager
After interviewing two candidates Thursday night, Selectmen voted 2-1 to offer the position of Interim Town Manager to Stoughton resident Joseph Feaster.
Stoughton resident Joseph Feaster originally submitted an application to serve on the Town Manager search committee. Instead, he decided to apply to be the Interim Town Manager.
Now, after a 2-1 vote by the Board of Selectmen Thursday night, Feaster is in position to become the Interim Town Manager when current Town Manager Francis T. Crimmins, Jr. departs on March 31.
Crimmins, who has served as Town Manager since February of 2010, submitted a resignation letter in January of this year, indicating his intent to resign at the end of March 2012.
Feaster, a Stoughton resident for the past 14 years, has been practicing law for more than three decades. He pointed to his experience as interim administrator on the Boston Housing Authority (1995-1996), where he oversaw the day-to-day management of a staff of more than 1,000 and a combined annual operating and capital budget exceeding $300 million, as well as to his time serving on the Boston Board of Appeals.
The Board interviewed two candidates—Feaster and Plymouth resident John Sanguinet— for the position of interim Town Manager during an open meeting Thursday evening in the Fitzpatrick Room on the first floor of the Town Hall.
Sanguinet had worked with the Massachusetts Department of Revenue from 1984-1998 and since 2001 had served as either the assistant town administrator/manager, interim town administrator or town administrator in four communities across the state.
Board Chairman John Stagnone also indicated that Town Auditor Bill Rowe would be available to fill in as the interim Town Manager, but after a brief discussion, the board went with Feaster.
“It’s imperative to have some kind of transition,” Selectman John Anzivino said. “I would be satisfied with either one of them…[but] I’m a little partial to having someone in town.”
So, Anzivino nominated Feaster. Selectman John Anderson nominated Sanguinet. Stagnone voted for Feaster and Selectman Cynthia Walsh did not vote, saying she was not in favor of either candidate. Selectman Steve Anastos was not present (Selectman Anastos explains his absence in a sidebar below).
The Selectman voted 3-0, with Anderson abstaining, to have Stagnone and town counsel negotiate a contract with Feaster and bring the contract back before the Board for a vote.
“I’m not applying for a job, I’m applying to do a job,” Feaster said during his interview.
Walsh asked both candidates if they would be ready for the Annual Town Meeting, which starts May 7 this year. She said the town departments needed a strong advocate at Town Meeting.
Anzivino asked about Feaster’s ability to get caught up with the budget process.
In response to both questions, Feaster said he is a “quick study”—he is familiar with the budget process (he brought last year’s Town Meeting warrant with him to Thursday’s interview) and has reviewed the Finance Committee’s audit report by Malloy, Lynch, Bienvenue, LLP.
“I’ve done my homework,” Feaster said.
Feaster serves as counsel for McKenzie & Associates, P.C., and offers legal consulting to a number of organizations.
When asked about the time he would be able to commit to being Town Manager, Feaster said the town will get “more than 40 hours” a week from him.
“I’m truly committed to give this all the time necessary,” he told selectmen. “I’m driven by results.”
He equated running a town to how the National Football League operates—the residents and Town Meeting are the commissioner’s office; the Board of Selectmen act as the team owner; and the Town Manager is the coach, with his team of department heads.
When asked about the possibility of applying for the permanent Town Manager position, Feaster replied, “never say never.”
Both interviews lasted about 45 minutes. There was no formal advertisement placed for the position, but calls were made to the Collins Center and Mass. Municipal Association to attract candidates. A third applicant did not interview because this person was not going to be available during Town Meeting, Stagnone said.
Stagnone said he would like to have the interim Town Manager in place a week before Crimmins leaves to allow for as much of a transition period as possible. Selectmen pinpointed Monday, March 26 as a potential date—five days before Crimmins departs.
In a phone call to Stoughton Patch, Selectman Steve Anastos explained his absence at Thursday’s selectmen’s meeting, where by a 2-1 vote the Board offered the position of Interim Town Manager to Stoughton resident Joseph Feaster.
Anastos said he was attending a science fair at his son’s school on Thursday evening. Originally this Selectmen’s meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, but because of a posting error, was postponed until Thursday, March 15.
Anastos said he was available Tuesday and informed Chairman John Stagnone that he was not available Thursday, but was available other nights, when Tuesday’s meeting needed to be rescheduled.
“I was ready, willing and able to take up this issue, just not on Thursday,” Anastos said.
But the meeting was still held Thursday night.
Stagnone, in an email to Stoughton Patch, wrote: "Mr. Anastos did not call me or respond to my e-mail concerning the rescheduling of the meeting. Any time a board member can not make a meeting and asks that we reschedule I've always tried to accommodate their requests to another night that everyone is available."
Anastos did not indicate if his vote would have impacted the 2-1 decision to offer the interim position to Feaster.
“I’ve never met either gentleman,” he said. “I don’t have an opinion on either.”