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NARRAGANSETT -Members of the newly elected Narragansett Town Council remain uniformed about the process and potential outcome of the townâ€™s search for a new town manager. The search committee, which was created in July by the council to assist in researching and interviewing potential candidates, is still convened and searching for final candidates.
â€śWeâ€™ve kind of been thrown in the middle of it,â€ť said Town Council President James Callaghan. â€śI canâ€™t comment on the process because I donâ€™t know much about it. Hopefully, we can get the committeeâ€™s thoughts soon.â€ť
Douglas McLaughlin expressed consternation regarding the new council membersâ€™ lack of actual knowledge behind the process and criteria that the search committee is applying to prospective town manager candidates.
â€śI donâ€™t even know what the process is and I have yet to meet with the members of the search committee,â€ť said McLaughlin. â€śAll I hear are rumors of who they have picked and I havenâ€™t been advised as to what the criteria is.â€ť
â€śI know there is some suggestions for putting this off to the new year, which I donâ€™t understand,â€ť he added. â€śThere doesnâ€™t seem to be any urgency, and I havenâ€™t received any official notification that Hoxsie has even applied. I am very frustrated with the whole process.â€ť
The search committee, which held its first meeting in August, met with the former town council at the end of October to suggest that the town manager position be re-advertized because of a lack of viable candidates.
â€śWe reviewed each resume in detail, approximately 62, and of those the committee narrowed it down to 10,â€ť said Edward Avarista, Chair of the search committee in October. â€śOf those 10, three were not available and we interviewed seven. After those interviews, the search committee concluded there was one person it was interested in bringing in for a second interview.â€ť
At the time, Avarista also suggested changes to the presented qualifications for the position, including removing the requirement that a candidate need a Masters degree and instead asking for more experience. He also suggested that such experience might not be involved directly in a previously held town manager position so long as the candidate can demonstrate steady and meaningful promotion in prior professions.
â€śUnder minimum qualifications, we did not feel that a masters was required,â€ť said Avarista in October. â€śWe also felt that based on our interviews that we wanted a candidate to have five years of increasing, responsible management. Prior town management experience we felt could be put in as preferred but not necessary.â€ť
Some council members held reservations about removing the masters degree requirement.
â€śI donâ€™t want to water down expectation,â€ť said Town Councilwoman Susan Cicilline-Buonanno in October. â€śI agree [with the search committee], but with those degrees come a lot of experience and it does matter. We want to have a high expectation and it is important that we have someone that is well-qualified and has the cognitive ability to do the job.â€ť
New and incumbent town council members declined to comment specifically on the work of the search committee, but Cicilline-Buonanno did express some frustration about information about candidates and the committeeâ€™s work leaking out into the public.
â€śI am blown away that there is conversation around the search committee because I thought until the process is done we would be quiet,â€ť said Cicilline-Buonanno. â€śI am happy to look at the applications when we get there, but I feel [discussion] is premature, which makes it difficult because I want them to finish their work.â€ť
â€śFinding the town manager is the biggest job we are going to do, and we want to do it well,â€ť she added. â€śI have the utmost confidence in the search committee that the process is fair and open, and I appreciate the time and effort they have taken and I am looking forward to who those names are.â€ť
Callaghan struck a similar tone of optimism that the search committee would successfully complete is research and candidate selection.
â€śI look at [the search] as more of an opportunity than a burden,â€ť said Callaghan. â€śWe will do the best we can and make the right decision for the best candidate, whoever that may be.â€ť
Avarista stated that the search committee anticipates forwarding final candidates to the new town council within the next 10 days.