HANSON — One search is over. Selectmen on Tuesday, Aug. 20 voted to endorse the recommendation of interim Town Administrator Meredith Marini to hire Greer Getzen of Norfolk to succeed Marini as Executive Assistant to the Board. Getzen accepted the position.
“I just want the board to find a fit for them,” Marini said, noting that the Town Administrator Act calls for her as interim to make a recommendation to them as the relevant board. “I felt that the board needed to have part of the interview process. It’s a really close relationship and I’m not going to be here.”
Marini plans to retire in December so long as a new town administrator is in place by that time.
The board was impressed with Getzen’s experience.
Getzen, who also has experience as an interim town administrator in Dover from 2004-09 and as town administrator until 2018, also has 14 years’ experience as an executive assistant to that town’s Board of Selectmen.
Also interviewing with Selectmen Tuesday were Leanne Monaghan, currently part-time clerk with the Hanson Water Department, and Halifax Assistant Town Treasurer Linda Cole. Both may also be considered for clerical vacancies in Hanson’s Conservation and Planning departments, Selectmen said.
The three finalists were all recommended for interviews after Marini, Selectmen Chairman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett and Selectman Kenny Mitchell independently reviewed résumés of 36 applicants.
“I’ve been told that there’s some concern regarding the posting process,” Marini said before Tuesday’s interviews began. She said that, in compliance with general bylaws, an internal posting was done two weeks ahead of public posting, with preference in the process given to town employees.
Department heads and Marini — in the capacity as town administrator — reviewed the applications before she, FitzGerald-Kemmett and Mitchell made their recommendations for which candidates should sit for final interviews. Mitchell and Marini interviewed five people Tuesday, Aug.13.
“I think this is the first time we’ve ever done this that Laura, Kenny and I went through them — at different times — and all picked the exact same people,” Marini said.
Getzen had begun her career as a paralegal and then worked for Legal Aid, assisting low-income people with applications for federal benefits before becoming an executive assistant with the town of Natick from 1995 to 2004. She took the position of administrative assistant to the Dover Board of Selectmen in 2004, where she worked until leaving to become project/procurement specialist for the town of Westford in 2018.
“I found local government really fascinating and important,” she said. “Over time the selectmen grew to trust [me and the town administrator] and grew very comfortable with us. We were the first administrator and assistant who were there for a long term, before that it was three years and out. We were used as a stepping-stone.”
She admitted her departure from Dover was prompted by a selectman’s campaign platform of “out with the old, in with the new” and she was concerned she would be painted with that brush.
“I’m not sure what the reason was, but I just felt the language was on the wall, she said. Westford was not a good fit, she said, as she was seeking “a real executive assistant position” and the more clerical role she walked into “bored me to death,” Getzen said.
“I have a broad range of skills and experience,” she said.
Selectmen were impressed with both her skills and candor.
“You’ve explained very clearly why you left your current position and you come to us highly recommended,” said Selectman Wes Blauss. “My only concern is I had to go on Google Maps — where is Norfolk?”
He wondered about Getzen’s ability to contend with the commute, especially in winter.
“I am not afraid to drive and I have a good four-wheel-drive vehicle,” she said. “For me, it’s not a problem.”
Marini said that, as long as the board was comfortable with any of the finalists, Getzen got her nod because Getzen has the skills and experience to take the executive assistant position before a new town administrator was chosen.
“We asked her about how she feels about taking the job and not knowing who the boss was going to be,” Marini said. “We asked everyone the same question. It wasn’t going to be a problem for any of them.”
Marini agreed that Getzen came highly recommended.
“I thought all three were excellent,” said Selectman Jim Hickey, who noted he felt unprepared to comment further as he had just met all three candidates, but that he would cast a vote.
Getzen was Mitchell’s front-runner.
“But if you told us you couldn’t take the job, I’d be fine with the other two,” he said.
“I really was looking for somebody with municipal experience,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “Perhaps the other two … would be excellent here [for other vacancies]. I don’t want to be in a position where we would want to have another interim town administrator — I’m hoping this is the last time we ever have to do that — but if we don’t, I think this woman could step right in and do the job. That, for me, is compelling.”
A Plymouth resident who has worked at the Water Department since 2013, Monaghan pointed to her knowledge of Hanson and her possession of the skills required for the job as reasons she would be the best candidate. She has also worked for Analytical Balance in Middleborough coordinating the sampling and testing for public and private water supplies, and performed similar duties at GeoLabs in Braintree before that.
Hanson resident Cole said her range of experience working for the town of Halifax for 20 years has prepared her for the executive assistant role. She began work in Halifax in a clerical role for the Town Clerk/Treasurer’s office in 1995.