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Six to interview for Southampton town administrator job

A sixth applicant who was not named as a semifinalist will also interview. The Select Board directed its screening committee to give interim Town Administrator Regina Shea-Sullivan a “courtesy interview” even though she was not on the committee’s shortlist.

The five applicants culled from a pool of 19 are former West Springfield Mayor Edward Gibson; former Methuen Mayor William Manzi; William Sheridan of Bloomfield, N.J., a former town administrator of Adams; Craig Kleman of Portsmouth, N.H., a former town administrator of Becket; and Michael Szlosek of Ludlow, former town administrator of Ludlow, South Hadley and Uxbridge.

Screening committee Chairman John O. Martin said the committee came up with the top five after ranking the 17 candidates that met the minimum qualifications. The committee will start checking references for the semifinalists and then conduct public interviews, probably during the week of April 29, he said. The committee will recommend three finalists to the Select Board.

“It’s a good group of candidates,” he said of the semifinalists. “They’ve got some depth.”

In regards to the Select Board’s order to interview Shea-Sullivan, he said it was the board’s prerogative. “We’ll do what we’re called on to do,” he said.

Jacqueline M. Sears, a member of the Select Board and the screening committee, made a motion at Tuesday’s Select Board meeting that Shea-Sullivan be given a “courtesy interview” because she has done “incredible work” in her seven years working for the town. The Chicopee resident was assistant administrator until being tapped as interim administrator in July 2011.

The board voted 3-2 in favor of the interview, but not before debating the fairness of such an interview as well as Shea-Sullivan’s qualifications. She did not speak at the meeting and did not reply to a request for comment Wednesday.

“From my own personal opinion, I couldn’t have dealt with a more dedicated person in this Town Hall,” Select Board Chairman Michael L. Phelan Jr. said during the discussion. “I think she deserves consideration.”

“Nobody on the committee felt that Regi hasn’t done a good job,” Martin said at the meeting. But he said that it doesn’t make sense to make her go through the interview process because she didn’t make the top 10. “Why would you want to put somebody through that?” he said.

Board member Ann W. Roy voted in favor of the interview, but acknowledged it side-stepped the screening process. “It’s not the system we set up,” she said.

Board member David A. McDougall said he felt the board should trust the committee’s results.

“If this process was set up to be objective — to look at the education requirements and at what is needed for the job — and the committee actually came up with the fact that perhaps Regi had some of those areas where she didn’t meet those qualifications, I think it’s in the best interest of the town to not grant a special interview for someone who was not able to come through to the interview based on qualifications,” he said. “I think it’s unfair.”

After the vote McDougall announced that he immediately got a text message from another applicant asking for a courtesy interview.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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