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Recruiter Bernard Lynch assists Amherst in search for permanent town manager



Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2016
AMHERST — As an executive recruiter, Bernard Lynch is responsible for helping Amherst’s elected leaders find the next permanent town manager.

It’s a task the former Lowell city manager, who now runs the Plymouth-based Community Paradigm Associates LLC, says can be accomplished, even with voters in March being asked to form a charter commission that could, within two years, recommend changing government from a Select Board, appointed manager and representative Town Meeting to one with an elected mayor and town council.

While voters debate a charter change, Lynch said the manager will have at least two years from being hired to make a case for the position and possibly maintaining the type of government in place since the 1950s.

“If you do your job, people will see the value of having a professional manager,” Lynch said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

But for now, Lynch said Amherst is marked by stability. John Musante, the late town manager, who died in September, was only the fifth permanent town manager when he was hired in 2010.

“As a former municipal manager, I think Amherst is a great opportunity for someone,” Lynch said.

The challenges, Lynch said, include increasing the tax base while maintaining compatibility with the quality of life. Amherst appears to be a well-run town, Lynch added, and is fortunate to have the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts and two prominent private colleges.

Before advertisements for the job are published, community forums will be held Tuesday, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., both at Town Room at Town Hall, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Jan. 20 in the Woodbury Room at Jones Library. Lynch will meet with residents and try to draw them out on the characteristics they want in the next manager.

Lynch has twice met with the Select Board to get a sense of the town, both as a full board and one-on-one with individual members last week. This will help him understand what type of person would find the position attractive.

“What I’m hearing somewhat is that Amherst is a community wrestling with finding the person who can be a leader in the community, but clearly accountable to the elected board and the citizens,” Lynch said.

Select Board member Andrew Steinberg said he is familiar with executive search processes and collecting information about town issues and town manager qualifications and attributes is an important stage.

“We’re all collectively trying to envision what Amherst needs in its next town manager,” Steinberg said. He added that he appreciated being able to speak directly to Lynch for 30 minutes.

“I think it’s a well thought-out, well-designed process,” Steinberg said.

The attributes, qualities and temperament will also be defined by the public.

“Essentially, I’m looking for the same from the citizens participating in the forums,” Lynch said. “I’m looking to gather information and put other pieces of information together to what we refer to as a position profile.”

Lynch said this profile will be complete by early February, in advance of advertising the position. That will begin the steps of collecting applications and resumes, with a screening committee to narrow applicants and finalists coming for public interviews.

“This is giving people more understanding about what Amherst is all about,” Lynch said.

Lynch said he is already talking to people who might be interested in applying for the position and other people who might be able to give leads on those who would like the job.

Amherst expects to pay Lynch’s company $12,875 to assist in the process of identifying and evaluating candidates for the permanent job.

Anyone who cannot attend the community forums is encouraged to send comments to Lynch at blynch@communityparadigm.com

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.