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South Hadley names former Holyoke mayor Michael Sullivan town administrator

After an hourlong discussion of the merits of both finalists — Sullivan, now the town administrator in Maynard, and former Connecticut state legislator Ronald S. San Angelo, 50, former mayor of Naugatuck, Conn. — board members took less than 5 minutes to reach a unanimous decision. Sullivan was mayor of Holyoke for 10 years before taking the job in Maynard, 20 miles west of Boston.

Board members said Sullivan and San Angelo both had strong qualifications for the South Hadley job, which will pay $105,000 to $130,000 a year.

Sullivan, 57, who still lives in Holyoke, will negotiate his salary and other contract matters with the board before officially starting as new town administrator.

He was mayor of Holyoke from 2000 to 2010 before taking the administrator’s job in Maynard, which has 10,000 residents and an annual budget of $35 million. South Hadley has 17,500 residents and an annual budget of about $41 million.

Sullivan’s three-year contract with Maynard ends March 31. He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night.

Board Chairman John R. Hine, who traveled with board member Frank J. DeToma to Maynard to interview town officials there about their experience with Sullivan, said the former Paper City mayor has “a low-key attitude that will fit well in South Hadley.”

He said Sullivan was described as someone who can seek common ground, even with fierce critics, and work toward solutions.

“We heard about people who go into his office ready to throw a hammer at him and leave inviting him to dinner,” Hine said.

DeToma said Sullivan “has an enormous network of people” in local and state government that would be beneficial to South Hadley.

Board member Marilyn G. Ishler said she got feedback on both finalists from about 20 South Hadley residents and that they favored Sullivan by a 3-to-1 margin.

Board member Ira J. Brezinsky said he liked both candidates and that either would be a good choice. He and Ishler went to Naugatuck on Monday to interview municipal officials in that city of 32,000 and Brezinsky said San Angelo got good reviews of his performance as mayor there.

Board Vice Chairman Robert G. Judge made the motion to offer the job to Sullivan, which was adopted unanimously.

South Hadley has been without a permanent town administrator since former administrator Paul Beecher resigned abruptly in January 2012 when the board declined to renew his three-year contract, which still had a year to run.

Jennifer Wolowicz, formerly the town’s personnel and procurement officer, stepped in as acting town administrator after Beecher’s resignation. She was named assistant town administrator by the Select Board in January.

Etta Walsh can be reached at ewalsh.gazette@gmail.com

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