, Derry, New Hampshire

May 8, 2014

Derry councilors tackle search timeline

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Town councilors called a draft timeline for hiring a new town administrator aggressive, but one that is important for getting a new leader in place.

Town Councilor David Fischer called on the rest of the council to follow a timeline he put together to hire the next administrator.

Fischer gave his timeline details at a meeting April 29.

For Fischer, it’s a way to put specifics down on paper about the hiring process and when certain goals should be met.

The town has received 41 applications; the deadline is June 1. Once the town budget is approved, Fischer said, the administrator search is the next big priority for the Council.

“The budget is our first order of business, the next order of business is the town administrator search,” Fischer said. “I’ve distributed the timeline to move this along after June 1 closes.”

Fischer said the dates are only drafts at this point and things could change.

But councilors agreed it was good to have specifics in place.

“It’s thorough, it looks extremely aggressive, I like that,” Councilor Joshua Bourdon said.

Fischer said June will be a busy month, and there should be times when applications are made available to councilors in chambers.

Councilors can then go in, read the applications and rate them according to how they view experience level, and if this person might be the right fit for Derry.

Members would keep their own sheets with their own remarks and views on potential candidates for the job.

The group will hold nonpublic sessions to discuss their opinions and give feedback to each other.

A list of questions will be formed to use in the selection process as the field of candidates gets narrowed.

Fischer also wanted the council to choose a process facilitator to help move the hiring along, not control it, he said, just aid in its progress.

Councilors gave that role to Fischer.

As the timeline moves forward, Fischer suggested narrowing the field to a certain number of finalists. Eventually, he said, councilors should get the town’s staff, administrators and even the community involved to submit concerns or questions to the final few.

The finalists will be chosen in June. Fischer wants those finalists announced by June 17, and the “stakeholder” forums — including town staff and community members — could follow as they, too, have a vested interest in who becomes the next town administrator.

“The community would have the opportunity to ask finalists questions as well and give written feedback (to council),” he said.

Council Chairman Mark Osborne said potential candidates’ names will remain confidential until any finalists are publicly announced.

“We should and will keep candidates’ names confidential, I think legally we must,” he said.

Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores said the search timeline had many nonpublic meetings on the schedule.

“We have put a lot of work and effort into this,” she said. “But so many nonpublics. Is it necessary to do everything behind closed doors?”

Osborne said Fischer’s timeline is a solid one and would keep the group on track.

“We’re moving along in the town administrator search,” he said. “That’s a good thing.”