There is no doubting the interest of former Town Councilor Kevin Coyle in the vacant Derry Town Administrator job. The doubt comes from who may or may not be helping him to get there.
Former Town Council Chairman Michael Fairbanks said, “it is no secret that Kevin is interested,” while Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores said, “I have heard the rumor too.”
Coyle has mentioned his interest in the job to fellow residents and on the Derry cable television program he hosts with Fairbanks’ wife, Janet, also a former Councilor.
How far will Councilors go to get him in?
Community member Michael Gendron has written a letter referring to a “coup” by Council members, while former Councilor Brian Chirichiello has made similar allegations.
But Coyle and the two Councilors often mentioned with him – Mark Osborne and Al Dimmock, who are now chairman and vice chairman of the Town Council say they have done nothing wrong.
Gendron’s allegations are based in part on the Council’s vote to at least attempt to find the next Town Administrator on its own. In the March 18 Council meeting, the Council voted against hiring an outside search firm for the administrator post, which has been vacant since October. Human Resources Director Larry Budreau has been appointed Acting Town Administrator, and has served in the role since July.
Councilors David Fischer and Phyllis Katsakiores voted against doing it in-house, while Osborne, Dimmock, Fairbanks, Thomas Cardon and Joshua Bourdon voted for tackling it themselves. Bourdon added a caveat that they try it for a month, which was later expanded to 60 days.
At the time, Osborne said he was in favor of trying it themselves because past search firm efforts had not brought candidates who stayed, and said he thought the Council had a better finger on the pulse of what Derry needed. Dimmock said he was voting against the search firm for economic reasons he didn’t want to spend the money.
In a phone call Friday, Osborne reiterated his views.
“Kevin has made it clear,” he said of the former Councilor’s interest in the post. “He talked about it on his television program.”
But Osborne said his desire for the Council to do the search process themselves had nothing to do with backing Coyle for the job.
“The concern for us,” he said of his fellow Councilors who voted against the search firm, “is that Derry has had a series of administrators, and they haven’t had a substantial longevity. And the manner they were chosen was through a search firm.”
Osborne said the Council, as representative of the community, should be charged with the process of “finding the candidate most appropriate for Derry.” The search firm staff members do not live in Derry, he said, and “unless you live in Derry, you won’t put our goals in the proper context.”
Osborne maintained there was “nothing underhanded, and no attempt to pull off a coup d’etat.
“We represent the people and search firms do not,” Osborne said. “We need to roll up our sleeves and get this done.”
While Osborne is a fiscal conservative, the money saved is a secondary goal, he said. The figure given for a search firm a few months ago was $15,000, an amount he is “happy and hopeful” to save.
“But that was not my overriding factor,” he said.
Dimmock said he thought the rumor started when a “certain former Councilor” called him and said, “Don’t vote for Kevin.”
It was a wasted effort on two fronts, Dimmock observed. “Who I vote for is nobody’s business but my own,” he said.
The other reason, he said, is, “I don’t have anybody to choose from at this time. We don’t have any resumes.”
But when they do receive resumes, “If I find that Kevin is the best one before me, that’s who I’ll vote for.”
Dimmock maintained that saving money was his objective in voting down the search firm. “We’ve had so many searches, and I’m sick of paying money for nothing, “ he said.
In reference to Osborne’s dinner out with Dimmock, an issue raised at last week’s Council meeting, Osborne said it was not a violation of Council ethics. “Al and I are good friends, and we talked about all kinds of things,” he said.
Did they discuss anything political? “If we did, that stays between Al and I,” Osborne said.
The difference between their dinner at T-Bones and complaints levied against past Council members for getting together at the Halligan Tavern is a matter of numbers, he said, adding, “Al and I together do not constitute a quorum of the Council.”
“Rumors,” Osborne said, “are not worth the voices they are spoken in.”
Coyle said in a phone interview Monday that he has stated publicly for months that he is interested in the job. “I don’t know why people are upset,” said Coyle, who is an attorney and is Londonderry Town Prosecutor, as well as a Rockingham County commissioner. “I have every right to apply for the position.”
He laughed when asked if he had any influence on Osborne, one of Chirichiello’s claims. “I don’t know how I would do that,” he said. Like Osborne, Coyle said dining out with another resident is exactly what it looks like.
“Have I been eating out with Mark? Absolutely Mark and I are friends,” he said.
Coyle said influencing Osborne is another matter. “Do I tell him how to vote? Have you met Mark?” he asked rhetorically.
Coyle said he’s also dined with Cardon, and has been a guest at the Fairbanks home, invited by Fairbanks’ wife, Janet.
He said he isn’t worried about the allegations, noting, “In the political business, you make some enemies. There are people who don’t want to see me in that job.”
And like Dimmock, he thinks it’s all moot until there’s an actual application. “They haven’t even decided on the application process yet,” Coyle pointed out.
The Council was scheduled to work on its job description and other fine points of the administrator search in a special meeting Tuesday, March 25, after the Nutfield News goes to press.