, Derry, New Hampshire

March 27, 2014

Derry councilors will search for administrator without help

Former councilor says he's interested in top position

Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Town councilors will handle the search for the next town administrator on their own. They won’t have to look far for one likely candidate.

Former town councilor Kevin Coyle said Monday he will likely apply for the top position.

Councilors voted, 5-2, March 18 to handle the search and hiring process on their own, rather than pay an outside firm.

Council Chairman Mark Osborne, Councilors Michael Fairbanks, Tom Cardon, Joshua Bourdon and Al Dimmock all voted to handle the search on their own. Councilors Phyllis Katsakiores and David Fischer opposed the motion.

Councilors will advertise the position, accept applications, interview and chose the next administrator.

Once that process is in place, Coyle said he would likely be on the candidate list.

“I’m interested in the job because I think Derry needs an administrator who understands Derry from day one,” he said. “I understand the budget process because I’ve done it. I understand the needs and desires of Derry citizens because I’ve been one for over 40 years.”

The 49-year-old Londonderry police prosecutor is a Rockingham County commissioner. He said he understands how towns work and what drives Derry’s high tax rate.

Osborne said he is aware of Coyle’s interest in the job.

Some in town are crying foul, saying Osborne and Coyle have been seen together at a local restaurant.

Osborne acknowledged he and Coyle have met privately, but denied having chosen a lead candidate.

“Presently, I and six other councilors are working very hard to set up a process that fairly and adequately vets all qualified applicants for the town administrator position,” he said.

Osborne also came under fire last week from former town councilor Brian Chirichiello for meeting with Dimmock outside council chambers. The two made a trip to Londonderry to talk to their counterparts about their search for a town manager last year.

During the council meeting last week, Chirichiello asked why only Osborne and Dimmock met with Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith and Town Councilor John Farrell.

Osborne defended the meeting, saying it was an informal discussion to talk about that town’s recent search for its new leader and to get Londonderry officials’ thoughts on the process.

“We were simply on a fact-finding mission,” he said. “We were not binding the town to any commitments, we were not signing contracts or legal documents. Mr. Dimmock and I do not constitute a quorum and we weren’t deciding or transacting official town business with the town of Londonderry.”

Osborne also acknowledged he has eaten out with both Dimmock and Coyle.

“I think very well of Kevin and Al, and thus have dined with each of them on several occasions, and I will continue to do so,” he said. “Town councilors are not islands among themselves.”

Coyle said, in the end, he just wants Derry to have the best leader.

“Apparently, some people think that just because I’ve said I’m interested in the job, that I’m automatically going to get it,” he said. “Just like everyone else who applies, I’m going to have to go through the process. In the end, I just want the best possible administrator for Derry.”

Derry has been without an administrator since last summer, following the arrest of former leader John Anderson, now waiting to go on trial to face indecent exposure charges following an alleged incident at his Lane Road home.

Councilors were divided over how to best proceed with the search for Anderson’s replacement. Some said it was best to hire an outside firm to conduct the search. Others wanted to keep the process in house to save taxpayers money. The last administrator search cost the town $15,000.

Last week, Osborne asked the new Town Council how they wanted to move forward. Opinions were still split.

“I’m in favor of a search agency,” Fischer said. “It’s just very important and critical to the residents of Derry that you have a pool of candidates worthy of consideration.”

Bourdon said although using a search firm would be easier, the job could be done internally. Dimmock said he wants to save the town money.

“We have a pretty poor reputation for picking the right person,” he said. “I’m also a cheapskate and I don’t like spending money. I can’t recommend a search firm.”

Fairbanks said he saw advantages to both approaches, but he was willing to try to do the search without using an outside company.

Osborne suggested creating a smaller, three-member subcommittee to do more detailed search work, but he didn’t find much support for that idea.

“To allow three people to do our job, I would never support,” Katsakiores said.

Fischer agreed.

“We either do it all together or we don’t,” he said.

Osborne said any final decisions would be made by the entire board.

It’s been months since the town cut ties with former Derry administrator John Anderson. Town councilors are finally focusing on a potential list of what qualifications they want to see in his replacement.

Councilors met Jan. 28 to discuss that list.

“What we are trying to do is draw a picture,” acting town administrator Larry Budreau said. “Hiring someone is not an easy chore. The process can be very taxing.”

Budreau went over a long list of qualifications that might bring Derry the best possible candidate to take over as administrator.

That included education, track record and experience dealing with public and private sectors, community presence, success dealing with business owners and residents, management skills, personal attributes, and a drive to help the community grow and prosper.

He cautioned councilors to remain focused on the task and not bring any personal feelings about Anderson or his situation into the process that might cause the meeting to end up in a nonpublic forum.

The town officially severed its relationship with Anderson last October in the wake of indecent exposure and lewdness charges brought against him in August.

Anderson had been on administrative leave since July 12, a day after an alleged incident at his Lane Road home involving a satellite TV salesman.

Derry councilors were torn in the aftermath of the Anderson case, some saying it was best to hire an outside firm to conduct the search. Others wanted to keep the process in house to save taxpayers money.

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