, Derry, New Hampshire

April 3, 2014

Derry councilors craft want ad for new leader

Councilors say they are making progress

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Town councilors have agreed on a lot of things about a job description for the next town administrator.

Now, a help wanted ad is complete and ready to run to find Derry’s next leader.

During a special Town Council meeting March 25, councilors spent three hours fine tuning a list of qualifications and characteristics they hope to find in the town’s new leader, with most votes being unanimous for final content.

A final job description has been drafted and is being placed in various media outlets and job search sites.

Getting to this point took many months. Councilors held goal-setting workshops and also delayed several town administrator agendas. With two new councilors Joshua Bourdon and David Fischer, joining the group, there was also some catching up to do.

Councilors agreed a lot of progress was made in that three hours.

“This was a nice job by everybody,” Councilor Tom Cardon said. “I’m very impressed.”

Councilor Al Dimmock said the session was one of the best he has seen since he has been a member of the often embattled group.

The group voted previously to do its own search to save the town money. This time, they approved a measure to spend no more than $2,000 to place the job ads.

Councilors spent time deciding on what the most finite of qualifications should be, including years of experience in municipal or administrative roles, college degrees, and what type of work they would want the perfect candidate to focus on, including strengths in economic development and working with the school district on budgetary issues.

Dimmock said he didn’t care if the perfect candidate didn’t have a long list of college degrees, as long as he or she was qualified.

“Just because someone has a degree doesn’t mean they know what they are doing,” he said. “A master’s degree, that’s just a piece of paper.”

Council Chairman Mark Osborne credited the previous council for a lot of preliminary administrator search work done in the past several months.

Both Brad Benson and Neil Wetherbee stepped down from the group in March. They both were involved in the process and Osborne wanted them to be recognized.

“I am grateful for the work done by the previous council,” he said. “It all looks pretty good.”

Since the council is doing their own search, most agreed they need to be objective and not let personal feelings get in the way.

“We must be assured there will be no nepotism, because he or she is a friend or neighbor of someone in Derry,” Councilor David Fischer said. “That would be short-changing the community.”

Osborne asked Fischer if some issue had come to light about the possibility of favoritism taking over the administrator search. The group has come under some fire recently for handling the search internally and not hiring an outside firm.

“Has anything occurred causing you any concern for nepotism or favoritism right out of the gate?” Osborne asked.

Fischer said there was no specific reason, but he just wanted to make sure that doesn’t happen during this search.