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Michael A. Szlosek of Ludlow is board’s choice for Southampton town administrator

Michael A. Szlosek, the Select Board's top choice for the job of Southampton's town administrator. 

REBECCA EVERETT.

Michael A. Szlosek, the Select Board's top choice for the job of Southampton's town administrator. REBECCA EVERETT. Purchase photo reprints »

SOUTHAMPTON — Michael A. Szlosek of Ludlow is on track to be the town’s next top administrator.

The Select Board plans to offer him the position pending the outcome of a background check, said John O. Martin, a member of the screening committee that recommended Szlosek to the Select Board as a finalist.

“I think Mr. Szlosek will make a good administrator,” Martin said Thursday. “He should be able to look at where we are and make some suggestions about how the town can run smoother than it has for the last few years we’ve been without a town administrator.”

The board made the decision Tuesday after deliberating and hearing from the public about the candidates. Szlosek was chosen from a pool of 19 after being named one of three finalists, who included former Methuen Mayor William M. Manzi III and Craig J. Kleman, a former town administrator and manager in communities including Becket and Merrimac.

Martin said that the board saw Manzi and Szlosek as the top two candidates. “I think they were both well-qualified and the issue was the traveling Mr. Manzi would have to do,” Martin said.

The board felt that as a local, Szlosek would be more available in emergencies and more likely to stay in the job long-term, compared to Manzi, who had told the board he would live in town Monday through Friday but go home to Methuen on the weekends.

Szlosek, who works as the Athol town manager, said Thursday that while he hasn’t been officially offered the position, he is pleased that the board is supportive of him.

“If I am indeed their top choice, it’s gratifying to have that vote of confidence,” he said.

Szlosek, 50, of 165 Genovevo Drive, Ludlow, has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s degree in business administration in finance, both from the University of Massachusetts, as well as a law degree from Boston University.

After serving on boards and committees in Ludlow, he served as town administrator from 2004 to 2008. He left to take a job as South Hadley’s town administrator, but left that job after only three months because of a difference in opinion about what the job would be like, he said during his interview.

He worked as town manager in Uxbridge from 2009 until 2011, when the town’s Select Board voted not to renew his contract. In his interview in Southampton, Szlosek said the board’s membership changed and new members ousted him because they felt he was against a school building project.

He has worked as town manager of Athol since September, but the job has a residency requirement and he does not like living away from his family during the week, he told the board in his interview.

Szlosek said he has a collaborative management style, is good at crafting municipal budgets with limited resources, and excels at contract negotiations and other legal matters because he is an attorney.

He said dealing with sensitive personnel matters is the most challenging part of municipal administration, and added that he does not have expertise in planning and grant writing.

Select Board member Michael L. Phelan Jr. questioned him about how frequently he has left jobs to take new jobs, but Szlosek said he would expect to stay in Southampton for a long time since it was close to his home. He added that he would be taking a pay cut to come to Southampton, where the salary range was advertised at $52,000 to $62,000.

Thursday he called Southampton a “beautiful little town” with nice people. “I enjoyed meeting citizens at the interview, they asked good questions and they seem to have a lot of community spirit,” he said.

No board members could be reached for comment and Martin said he did not know when a firm would be hired to perform the background check.

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

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