HANSON — Town Administrator Ron San Angelo has been offered the job as town manager in Southbridge, which is located in southern Worcester County near Sturbridge.
The Southbridge Town Council voted 8-1 on Thursday, June 4 to make the offer.
San Angelo was among three finalists — including North Kingstown, R.I., Town Manager Michael E. Embury and Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapik.
There had been 22 applicants, seven of which were considered finalists, according to Council Chairman Shaun Moriarty. Of the seven, four were invited to interview, with one withdrawing.
Knapik received the one other vote cast in Southbridge.
“Ron has a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Moriarty said. “He has a proactive attitude and he’s definitely a go-getter.”
The Town Council has heard positive reports about San Angelo, Moriarty reported.
“From everything we heard, he’s a stand-up guy,” he said. “I’m sure each town has their own dynamics.”
Moriarty said the town manager position in Southbridge “has more authority delegated by town charter than in most town administrator communities.”
Both San Angelo and Embury also interviewed as finalists for the post of Brewster town administrator to succeed Charles Sumner, who is retiring after 29 years on the job, according to the Cape Cod Times, which reported Tuesday night that Embury had been offered the Brewster job.
San Angelo had informed Southbridge of the Brewster interview, which took place Monday, as did Embury’s. Brewster Selectmen interviewed Harwich Town Administrator Christopher Clark Tuesday night before voting to offer the job to Embury.
Ironically, Clark had been Southbridge’s town manager until August 2013, about the time San Angelo was hired in Hanson.
The next step, according to Moriarty, is the contract-negotiating phase.
“He was offered the position pending successful contract negotiations and those negotiations are currently underway,” Moriarty said. “We’ll see how quickly both sides come to terms.”
Southbridge Town Council has already met to discuss its frameworks for a deal and has appointed a negotiations committee to work with San Angelo toward trying to come to terms on a contract.
“Hopefully [that will happen] the sooner, the better so we can move forward,” he said, noting that it is hoped San Angelo could start early to mid-August.
San Angelo’s current Hanson contract includes a 60-day notification before he would leave to work elsewhere.
Hanson Selectmen are in the process of reviewing that contract as some board members see unacceptable differences between San Angelo’s pact and that of former Town Administrator René Read.
San Angelo requested an evaluation and renewal of his contract out of consideration for his family’s security this spring following conflict with the board. He posted a copy of the letter to Selectmen on the Voices of Hanson Facebook page.
“The Board of Selectmen is in a position to immediately offer me a new contract if you believe that I have done a good job for the citizens of Hanson,” he wrote on March 24. “It is my intention to begin looking at long-term options for the security of my family.”
At the same time, he listed more than a dozen accomplishments and stressed his “strong commitment” to Hanson and a wish to remain on the job.
Selectman Don Howard said at a meeting last month that he has “no qualms” about working with San Angelo, the third town administrator he has worked with over seven years.
“He’s from another state, and sometimes he gets carried away because he’s been a mayor and a manager,” Howard said. “As far as what we hired him for as an administrator for the town of Hanson, in my opinion he’s doing his job.”
“I agree the job’s getting done,” said Selectman James McGahan. “I question, sometimes, the way he does it.”
McGahan said there are three specific points in the contract that concern him, including the indemnification clause.
“Under the old contract, if he was guilty of misconduct the TA was dismissed,” he said. “There is nothing of such in this contract.”
In April, Selectmen approved a policy under which access to town counsel by individual selectmen requires approval only by the Selectmen’s chairman or vice chairman. The town administrator would be notified of such requests, but would not have the power to approve or deny them.
That same month, San Angelo interviewed for a town administrator job in Norwell as one of three finalists. Norwell Selectmen hired Braintree Town Solicitor Peter J. Morin by a 4-1 vote.
Selectman David DeCoste voted for Hanson Town Administrator Ron San Angelo. In the end, however, the board decided Morin was a “better fit” for Norwell.
The Norwell Selectmen Chairman Ellen Allen had noted San Angelo was up-front about his history with Hanson Selectmen — both with the board that hired him and the current board. He did not mention it in his final interview.
“With the way he talked about that with the screening committee we all felt comfortable with his explanation,” Allen said. “But he’s kind of taken on that interaction with them in the public in a way that concerns me.”
Southbridge has a population of 16,719 and is one of 14 municipalities in Massachusetts with a city form of government, but which retain “town of” in official names. The economy of “The Eye of the Commonwealth,” was driven for many years by the American Optical Company, which closed in 1984.