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Southampton administrator finalists to interview Tuesday, decision may be made Wednesday

The Select Board will interview three finalists for the job Tuesday and could make a decision as early as Wednesday.

The finalists selected from the 19 applicants are former Methuen mayor William M. Manzi, Athol Town Administrator Michael A. Szlosek and Craig J. Kleman, who has served as town administrator in numerous New England towns.

Select Board Chairman David A. McDougall said the board is looking forward to interviewing the candidates during a regular meeting Tuesday. It has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to discuss and possibly select an administrator.

Each interview will be 30 minutes long, with an additional 15 minutes for the public to ask questions or make comments. Manzi will interview at 6:30 p.m., Kleman at 7:30 p.m. and Szlosek at 8:30 p.m.

The town has been without a permanent administrator since the end of July 2011, when Diana Schindler left to take another job. Her assistant, Regina Shea-Sullivan, has served as interim administrator since.

One of a few former mayors to apply, Manzi was a three-term mayor of Methuen, a city of approximately 47,000, from 2006 to 2011. He ran also unsuccessfully for the 1st Essex District state Senate seat last fall, but said his passion is for municipal government.

In a phone interview, Manzi said he developed six municipal budgets in Methuen without cutting services or jobs, even during tough economic times.

“I think it shows I have a strong record with budgeting,” he said. “A building block of good government is working to be sure finances are well done and you have a solid financial base.”

He said he has expertise especially in managing operations, staff management, finance and purchasing.

Kleman, of Portsmouth, N.H., said he got his start in a “big city,” Manchester, N.H., and has since gained experience in a variety of communities ranging in population from 1,700 people to more than 5,000.

He has served as town administrator or interim town administrator in towns around New England including Becket, most recently, and before that in Merrimac; East Montpelier and Lyndon, Vt.; and Atkinson, Plaistow, Seabrook and Epping, N.H.

He said he sees Southampton as a community that is “changing from an agricultural base to a bedroom community.”

“I’ve worked in other towns like that and I could help with community development and economic development,” he said. He also said he excels at managing personnel and administering grants and capital projects.

Szlosek, town manager in Athol, previously worked as town manager in Uxbridge and town administrator in South Hadley and Ludlow. Before that, he served on municipal boards and committees in Ludlow, where he lives.

In a phone interview Thursday, Szlosek said that while he likes his position in Athol, he’d prefer to work in Southampton because it is closer to his home.

In his more than seven years of experience as a municipal official, Szlosek said he has become adept at public finance, budgeting and contract administration.

And his work as an attorney comes in handy in negotiating municipal labor contracts.

“I think it’s helpful. I’ve got a pretty broad knowledge of municipal law and finance,” he said.

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

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