East Longmeadow City Council weeds out candidates for City Manager, votes for new search
EAST LONGMEADOW – East Longmeadow City Council voted 6 to 1 to drop its initial search for a city manager, resulting in three candidates, two of them from the town’s own ranks.
At the February 14 board meeting, the board voted to defer the nomination of one of the three candidates chosen by the selection committee with the help of the research firm Community Paradigm Associates because a question had been raised by the qualifications required by the city charter.
Article 3 of the charter states that the chief executive must be “a person of proven administrative ability, specially qualified by education and training, with prior experience as a town or city manager, or a Deputy City or Town Manager or equivalent public or private sector level experience.
The final three search candidates were East Longmeadow CFO Stephen J. Lonergan, CIO Ryan J. Quimby and Wellesley HR Scott Szczebak. None of them had experience running the city, and the council sought advice from City Attorney Jesse Belcher-Timme on whether any of them could fill the position. Belcher-Timme found that candidates weren’t specifically excluded from the position, but said that to get clear clarification, the board would need to speak with the committee that drafted the charter.
When Council Chairman Michael Kane requested a motion to allocate $9,950 from the city’s Free Cash Account to hire the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management to conduct new research, Councilman Connor O ‘Shea intervened. He asked how the board made the decision to do new research or hire a new company to do it. Kane responded that any councilor can submit a motion for discussion and consideration.
O’Shea told colleagues he was not in favor of new research. ‘I don’t see how we would expect the candidate pool to have changed,’ he said, adding that it was a ‘slap in the face’ to the selection committee that brought three ‘qualified candidates’ to the board. . O’Shea said he was still willing to vote for any of the original candidates.
Councilor Sydney Starks disagreed with O’Shea and said further research would give the council a chance to do its ‘due diligence’ and ‘what is best for the people of East Longmeadow’ . O’Shea wondered how spending an extra $10,000 was in the interest of the taxpayer.
“I was ready to vote two weeks ago,” Councilwoman Marilyn Richards said, but as City Manager Mary McNally volunteered to stay on until her contract expired in June, Richards wanted to use the time “to make sure we are making the right choice.”
Council Vice President Ralph Page wanted to establish concrete requirements before starting a new search, but O’Shea disagreed with this step. He said any hiring process is “a bit of a dance” to find the best candidate among those available.
Kane assured O’Shea that conducting a new search would not necessarily exclude any of the candidates from the first search.