Amherst Select Board names seven members to Town Manager Screening Committee

Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2016

AMHERST — Between three and five finalists for the vacant town manager position will be recommended for public interviews by a seven-member screening committee appointed by the Select Board.

The Select Board on Monday voted 4-1 in favor of creating the Town Manager Screening Committee, with board member Andrew Steinberg casting the dissenting vote after expressing reservations about having an alternate who would participate in discussions but not be eligible to vote.

But other Select Board members said this alternate is necessary for the committee, which will have a limited time span in which to meet applicants for the job and then advise the Select Board on which candidates to interview.

“It’s anticipated the length of service would actually be between four and eight weeks,” said Human Resources Director Deborah Radway.

The alternate would be at all screening committee meetings and only vote if another member is absent because of illness or other emergency.

The seven voting members, based on a Select Board consensus from individual tallies, will be Amherst Survival Center Executive Director Mindy Domb, Board of Assessors Chairman Carl Mailler, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce President Julie Marcus, University of Massachusetts Director of External Relations Tony Maroulis, Town Meeting member and retired attorney Richard Morse, Town Moderator James Pistrang and the town and school’s Media and Climate Communications Specialist Carol Ross.

Former town attorney Robert Ritchie was named the alternate, but Select Board Chairwoman Alisa Brewer said Tuesday that he is not available on some of the dates the screening committee is expected to meet.

“It’s not clear what we will do as a backup plan,” Brewer said, referring to possibly replacing Ritchie as an alternate.

The Select Board meets again Saturday as part of a “four-town” meeting with officials from Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury, but it does not have a regular meeting scheduled again until March 14.

The committee, whose members are being asked in the committee charge to “use their best judgment and understanding of the criteria for selection of the town manager,” will meet for the first time at 7 p.m. March 2 at the First Floor Meeting Room at Town Hall.

Resumes for the position, which is being filled on an interim basis by Peter Hechenbleikner, are due by March 10 and are being sent to Bernard Lynch, the executive recruiter who runs Community Paradigm Associates of Plymouth.

Lynch is reviewing compliance with the minimum qualifications for the job, including having a decade of managerial experience, and how well each applicant fits the detailed community profile that he put together based on meetings with the Select Board, municipal employees and the public.

Brewer said she expects that three or more good candidates will emerge.

“The clearly expressed intention is we want at least three (finalists), but we want three strong” candidates, Brewer said.

Lynch is doing outreach to those who may not see the print and online advertisements for the job.

“One reason we hired Bernie is to work the field for us,” Brewer said.

The screening committee will meet with Lynch and Radway to develop a list of questions before conducting the preliminary interviews.

Brewer said these preliminary interviews, in executive session, are tentatively scheduled for March 22, 23, and 24, with the public Select Board interviews of finalists possible in April. That would mean having interviews done before the start of annual Town Meeting in May.

Besides the Select Board’s discussion about the need for an alternate, Select Board member Constance Kruger asked whether there was a need to set a minimum of three finalists, and that the board might want to have up to six finalists come for interviews. But the board agreed to stick with the guidelines recommended by Radway.

“I don’t think I’d remove the floor, though I’m comfortable with five,” Steinberg said.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


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