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Stoughton Selectmen Vet Town Manager Candidates; Interim Manager Feaster Not Among Finalists

The Stoughton Board of Selectmen interviewed the three finalists for the position of permanent Town Manager Thursday evening at Town Hall. The Board will meet Tuesday, September 18 to make a final decision.

After a months-long search process, the Town Manager search committee presented the Stoughton Board of Selectmen with three finalists for the position of permanent Town Manager.

Paul Shew of Franklin; Kenneth Fields of Boca Raton, FL; and Michael Hartman of Canton appeared before the Board of Selectmen Thursday evening, September 13 for separate interviews.

Their potential future bosses asked each of them a series of questions ranging from budgeting experience, vision of economic development, procurement experience, ability to represent the municipal side of government at Town Meeting and ability to coexist with the town's school department.

Search Committee Vice-Chair Forrest Lindwall said all three candidates had more than 30 years experience in municipal government dealing with budgeting, collective bargaining and public administration, and each had a forward thinking vision to help lead the town.

On Wednesday, September 12, the were interviewed by three separate panels - the Town Manager Search Committee; Stoughton Department Heads; and a group representing consulting firm . Following these panel interviews, which were not open to the public, the field of seven was narrowed down to three.

Selectman Chair John Stagnone said Interim Town Manager Joseph Feaster was one of the final seven candidates, however the Stoguhton resident was not one of the three finalists.

Stagnone praised the work Feaster has done serving as Interim Town Manager. Feaster became the interim Town Manager on April 1 of this year.

"Joseph has done a great job as Interim Town Manager that speaks volumes for itself," Stagnone said. "He filled in in a tough position and did a fantastic job."

Stagnone said "a lot of great candidates applied so it was a tough decision for everyone." He added that the "process worked the way we intended it to."

Until Thursday's interviews, the Selectmen were not directly involved in the search process other than by appointing a citizen search committee and approving funding to hire a search consulting firm.

There were 55 applicants for the position, 23 of whom were sent essay questions. These 23 were reduced to the final seven. Shew, Fields and Hartman (interviewed in that randomly selected order) were the three that emerged as finalists.

Lindwall said all three were "equally qualified." Search Committee Chair Eric Milgroom told selectmen he felt "any of them would make a fine Town Manager here."

The Board of Selectmen will meet Tuesday, September 18 at 7:30 p.m. to make a final hiring decision.

Paul Shew

  • Resident of Franklin, MA
  • Past City Manager in Rye, NY (2003-2009); Village Manager in Ossing, NY (1997-2003); County Administrator in Barnstable, MA (1995-1996); Town Manager in Rocky Hill, CT (1990-1995); Town Administrator in Franklin, MA (1984-1990); City Manager in Willimantic, CT (1979-1983)
  • Has been working in the private sector since 2009 with PEER Consultants, P.C., a Washington, D.C. based international firm providing engineering services and disaster long term recovery

Kenneth Fields

  • Resident of Boca Raton, FL
  • Past Town Administrator in Southwest Ranches, FL (2011-2012); Village Manager in Islamorada, Village of Islands (2008-2010); Executive Administrative Officer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida in Hollywood, FL (2002-2006); Assistant City Manager in Hollywood, FL (1994-2002); Director of Business Operations of a Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA (1988-1993); Manager at the National Government Services Group for Arthur Young & Co. (1983-1988); Budget and Research Officer/Fiscal Officer/Assistant Director of Labor Relations for city of Pittsburgh, PA (1976-1983)

Michael Hartman

  • Resident of Canton, MA
  • Current Town Manager in Jaffrey, NH (2007-present)
  • Past Town Administrator in Wareham, MA (2001-2007); Town Administrator in Medway, MA (1998-2001); Town Manager in Warren, RI (1995-1998); Assistant City Manager in Meriden, CT (1992-1995); Assistant to City Manager in Meriden, CT (1988-1991); Director of Community Services in Scott County, IA (1982-1988); Assistant Administrator for District 4 of the Iowa Dept. of Human Services (1979-1982); Project Manager for the Iowa Dept. of Social Services (1977-1979); Planning Specialist for Metro United Way in Rock Island, IL (1976-1977); Community Development Specialist in Scott County, IA (1974-1975)
DJ September 14, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I'm hesitant to write this given the time, energy and resources that went into the search for Town Manager. I do not know any of them outside of their interviews, though I am familiar with some of their past experiences. I also do not know Mr. Feaster other then what I've viewed and read from meetings. I'm curious to know how much time the BOS had to prepare for the interviews? Bob O'Regan seemed to be the only one who had a thorough background of the candidates and was refreshingly open and candid. With that, I was left unimpressed by the three chosen and did not find one, preferable to Mr. Feaster. In fact, at least one and likely two were far inferior for numerous reasons. Given the steps and level of involvement from multiple participants in the selection process, I'm left scratching my head as to why the final result would appear lackluster, uninspiring and maybe even a little political. Is it just me?

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