By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — Kevin Smith will be the new face at Town Hall and he hopes to hit the ground running.
Smith, a former GOP gubernatorial candidate, was named Londonderry’s new town manager last week and begins the job Aug. 15. He will earn a starting salary of $105,000.
Town councilors made it official at a meeting Aug. 1. Earlier speculation led many to believe that Smith would be the top choice.
For Smith, 36, it’s like coming home. That’s why he wanted the job.
“If it were any other town, I wouldn’t have applied for it,” he said. “I have a personal investment in Londonderry. It’s a great privilege to give back.”
Smith has deep roots in Derry. He is a 1995 graduate of Londonderry High School graduate.
Both his parents and his wife’s parents still call Londonderry home.
Smith became active in local and state politics after graduating from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and served the town as a state representative from 1996 to 1998.
He ran for governor in 2012, losing in the Republican primary to Ovide Lamontagne.
Smith said he still sees teachers he once had in school and also knows of many classmates who have returned home to Londonderry. That’s why becoming the town’s manager means a lot.
“That says a lot about the community,” he said. “It says something about the quality of life.”
Finding the right town manager took time.
The town hasn’t had a permanent town manager since June 2012, when former manager David Caron left the job.
Since then, police Chief William Hart has served in the acting role as manager.
In February, town councilors narrowed their search and picked their top candidate, but that individual decided to take a different position.
Councilors opted to start at the beginning again and readvertised the job. They chose Smith as their top candidate.
Hart said Smith would be a great addition.
“I look forward to working with him,” he said.
Smith said the first six months on the job will be a learning curve. He said he plans to meet with employees and hear their concerns and hopes for the town.
He said Londonderry has a lot of exciting things in the pipeline, including the proposed Woodmont Commons development and the Pettengill Road project. The town has a lot of potential and opportunities.
Keeping economic development on the front burner is also key, he said.
Smith also will do a lot of listening and learning.
“There are a lot of things I don’t know,” he said. “I will do more listening than anything.”