Selected for his potential to move the town forward and inclusive leadership style, Galen Stearns of Windham is Derry’s new Town Administrator. And Stearns is ready to hit the ground running.
“I’d like to set up meetings before starting so I can understand what the priorities for Derry are and where we need to be headed,” Stearns, 59, told the Town Council, noting he wants input from the public, as well as from the business community and town employees.
The Town Council voted 7-0 at their Tuesday night, Oct. 7 meeting to accept Stearns’ contract.
Town Council Chairman Mark Osborne said Stearns’ experience in private business, with corporate economies, and serving as the Town Administrator in Antrim since October 2009 make him uniquely suited to run the town successfully.
Antrim has a population of approximately 2,449 residents compared with 34,021 residents in Derry; so, the new position will likely bring new challenges for Stearns. But Stearns told the Council last week he is looking forward to the opportunity and is ready to get to work.
Describing his demeanor as discerning and calm, Osborne said Stearns’ leadership style is to seek and build consensus by engaging residents on the streets and engaging town employees in the field.
He’s experienced enough to the hit the ground running, but inquisitive enough to learn more about Derry’s unique challenges and needs, Osborne said.
The search for a new Town Administrator started in October 2013, when former administrator John Anderson terminated his contract with the Town. After the Council interviewed two finalists who rose to the top of a search this past spring, they made the decision to re-open the search in hopes of finding a better fit for Derry.
“We were close to selecting a new administrator, but for reasons of conscience and diligence we chose to re-open the search,” Osborne said.
“We sought to fill the position in a way that was transparent,” said Osborne, noting the Council held public hearings every step of the search process, seeking input on everything from the salary advertised for the position to qualifications desired.
The Council voted in July to budget $2,000 to advertise they were re-opening the search for a new administrator, after having spent $450 in July on advertising. In total, advertising the search for Derry’s new administrator cost the town $1,500, Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau said.
After reviewing over 100 applications submitted in the second round of the Town’s search, the Council chose Stearns, Peter Graczykowski of Rhode Island, and Troy Brown of Londonderry as their favorites for the position. The finalists then moved on to public interviews where all members of the community had the opportunity to weigh in.
Stearns’ unique blend of corporate experience in engineering and quality assurance and experience serving as a selectman and on other local boards and committees in Windham, including the School Board, Planning Board and Windham Capital Improvement Committee, as well as his experience as Antrim’s Town Administrator and his desire to consider input from all members of the community, are what made him stand above the rest, Osborne said.
The salary for the position was advertised between $100,000 and $125,000. Stearns’ contract with the Town states he will earn $115,000 annually.
Stearns’ first day as town administrator is to be Nov. 3. Budreau, thanked by the Council for keeping the town running smoothly in the interim, will remain acting administrator until Stearns is officially on the job.