The search for a new Derry Town Administrator is off to a good start, Town Councilors and residents agreed.
Progress on the search to replace John Anderson, whose employment was terminated in October, is progressing well, with a Council mostly in agreement about how to do so.
Chairman Mark Osborne said that the Council, in a special meeting last week, unanimously approved an advertisement, unanimously approved a qualification statement, and approved a budget of up to $2,000 to conduct the search.
Osborne said ads have been posted on SimplyHired, Monster.com, the New Hampshire Municipal Association Web site, the New Hampshire Municipal Management Association Web site, and the town site.
New Councilor David Fischer and veteran Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores had differed with the majority on the amount of experience needed and the education needed, respectively. Osborne commended them for not becoming angry.
“The Council,” he said, “conducted itself in a flawless fashion. Phyllis and Dave made valuable contributions, when they could have taken their ball and gone home.”
At the April 1 meeting, the group focused on security and confidentiality, and what to do when the resumes start rolling in.
Osborne reminded the Council, “If we’re going to get resumes, some of these people are probably still employed. I would hate to see us ‘leak’ a name and it get back to their employer.”
Osborne said he had drafted a “confidentiality pledge” and asked the other Councilors to sign it.
One of his suggestions was to place all the resumes under a “seal” until everybody could be there to look at them at the same time. “That would make it more transparent, and help us to work as a team,” he said.
Councilor David Fischer said he “couldn’t agree more” about the confidentiality, but questioned the “gang’s all here” mentality. “It is difficult at times for us all to come together,” he said. “I would like to be able to look at them as I have time, as long as they don’t leave this building.
But Councilor Al Dimmock said, “Meeting is our obligation when we run for office.”
Dimmock’s take was that the resumes should be “sealed in a locked box” until all seven Councilors are available for a nonpublic session. “We need to take our time and investigate all these applications, and we can’t wait till June 1,” he said.
Katsakiores said, “I think when we come down to the final five, that’s when we all get together. Until then, it doesn’t matter whether we’re alone or with a committee.”
Fischer maintained, “I don’t need to sit in a room to read the applications if we’re not going to discuss them.”
Fischer advocated ranking the applications by three categories: “Individuals we believe are candidates strong enough to move forward;” candidates they don’t feel strongly about, one way or other; and candidates they are strongly opposed to. “But I don’t think we need to look at them with other people,” he added.
Councilor Joshua Bourdon said he was grateful for the confidentiality pledge. His suggestion was, “Between now and June 1, all resumes will be available in a room, and only accessible to the seven of us. Any member could enter, at different times. We all need time to digest these resumes.”
Bourdon, who works in the staffing industry, also suggested that the names and addresses of candidates be blacked out on the resumes, and only their qualifications addressed by Councilors. “We can label them Candidate 1, 2, 3 and so on,” he said, adding that the names could be revealed at the semi-finalist stage.
“And only when we narrow them down should we bring the board together,” he said.
Bourdon recommended phone-screen interviews with the final five, and live interviews with the final three.
Councilor Thomas Cardon reminded his colleagues that they will need some kind of evaluation form or rubric to rank the candidates.
Osborne reviewed the items they agreed on: confidentiality, an evaluation form of some kind, and to draft a plan for reviewing the resumes.