By Lorraine Glowczak
The multi-step process for the hiring of the next Windham Town Manager began with a public forum on Thursday, November 8 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall in the Council Chambers room. The purpose of the meeting was to offer the Windham community an opportunity to provide input regarding what they deem important qualities for the next town manager.
The meeting was facilitated by interim manager Don Gerrish and Richard Metivier, a consultant with Eaton-Peabody Consulting Group (along with Gerrish), which will be leading and assisting in the hiring process.
Approximately 12 citizens were in attendance, including four town council members, Clayton Haskell, Rebecca Cummings, Jarrod Maxfield and newly elected, Dave Nadeau.
Gerrish announced that he anticipates up to 30 applications will be submitted for the position and an ad has been placed in professional websites with a deadline of November 26. Once the search has been closed, a public meeting will be set for community members and business owners, etc. to have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the applicants. Interviews with department heads will also take place with a final selection from the Town Council. The successful candidate will be known by mid-January and the expected start date will be February 1. “We are seeking the person who fits your community the best,” Gerrish said.
Various comments were expressed with the main concerns focused upon the growth of Windham and transparency in town government.
Other comments expressed by the public included but were not limited to the following:
“Our town is growing very fast, but we still have a measure of small-town mentality. We need a candidate who can pull this community and this town council together,” stated Pat Moody.
“We are becoming a suburb of Portland (but) that is not my plan for Windham.” We have to hold back growth. We need controlled growth while protecting the environment. We have five bodies of water that are impaired as a result of uncontrolled growth.” Jeanie Rhein
“Town officials need to understand the boundaries of their roles,” stated Allen Pollack. He also expressed hope that solutions to problems are presented to the council as a full range of options and not just a single recommendation.
“The town is bigger and busier and we need a collaborative approach to help us solve the problems. We need to follow our comprehensive plans. I’m not confident effective planning is taking place,” expressed Kyle Rhoades
“We need transparency and communication through all groups. The candidate needs previous experience and should not be a rookie. He or she should be an idea person who brings multiple options to the table and provides a good working environment for town employees,” stated Maxfield.
“The candidate should be competent in MUNIS software,” expressed Nadeau.
“We need to have increased acknowledgment and non-monetary support for local non-profits and civic organizations. Sometimes non-profits just need good advice or help navigating various town rules and ordinances. I highly recommend a more collaborative approach to town management rather than the “top-down” approach.” Walter Lunt said.
Other suggestions and comments included that consideration should also be given to candidates who are experienced in the private sector. It was also mentioned that town government should be “vigorously transparent”, stating that it seems like certain “unknown factions” make secret deals. Suggestions included that competing factions should collaborate through consensus building and the candidate should be able to help lead the council through conflicts.
The public forum ended at approximately 8 p.m. For full details of the public forum, one can view the recorded session on channel 7 which can be accessed on the Town of Windham webpage at .