WHITMAN — Whitman Selectmen on Tuesday, Nov. 1 voted, 4-0, to appoint Lisa Green of Whitman as assistant town administrator.
Green, an attorney who served as a Whitman Selectman from May 2011 until this past July 29, works as a disability examiner and adjudicator for the Center for Disability, Office of the Regional Commissioner at the Social Security Administration in Boston.
Green was one of two finalists for the position interviewed by selectmen Tuesday night.
Asked by Selectmen Chairman Carl Kowalski to list two adjectives to describe her candidacy, Green said “enthusiastic and motivated.”
After the meeting, Green said she knows she has a tough job ahead of her, learns quickly and she will do the best job she can for the citizens of the town.
“I want to thank the selectmen for entrusting me with the position. I will work hard to not let them down,” she said.
Kowalski and selectmen Scott Lambiase, Daniel Salvucci and Brian Bezanson voted to appoint Green.
They made the appointment Tuesday after interviewing Green and the other finalist, Michael Mullen of Rockland, who is a Rockland selectman and works as director of government affairs and communications for the Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools (MAAPS) in Wakefield.
Board members Tuesday praised both finalists as strong candidates who could eventually step in for longtime Town Administrator Frank Lynam when he eventually retires in three or more years, and in the end voted to appoint Green to the assistant town administrator position.
“I have no doubt Lisa is the best candidate for the position at this time,” Kowalski said. “We know her. She’s a hard worker.”
Sixty-six people applied for the position. Two-thirds of them have master’s degrees and nine are attorneys. A subcommittee that included Lynam, Lambiase and Kowalski interviewed and screened them.
Selectmen Tuesday asked the finalists if they would feel comfortable if called upon to fill the town administrator’s shoes in the future should he retire, how they would balance their personal views of Proposition 2-1/2 with the will of the voters should there be conflict, and to discuss moments in their careers when they were at their personal or professional best.
During her interview, Green said the town administrator’s shoes are big shoes to fill. She said she lives five minutes away from Town Hall and would be able to work a full day during the day, have time to go home for supper and return to attend meetings of the finance committee and other town boards.
“I think I would be able to step into those shoes and hit the ground running,” she said. “I’m in awe of the many hats Frank wears. I’m well aware of all the hats that need to change and all of the directions he heads in.
“I’ve been a presence in Town Hall for five years,” she said. “I’m invested in the town. I live in the town.”
Green said she had to scale back her role as a Whitman selectman after she got a promotion at work and could no longer get the time off to attend Massachusetts Municipal Association conferences and training sessions.
Green has worked for the Social Security Administration for the past eight years, and said employment as assistant town administrator in Whitman would give her the time to make a full-time commitment to the town.
In her current role, Green serves as an authoritative specialist and program expert in the development and adjudication of Social Security Title II and Title XVI disability cases.
She communicates with claimants, attorneys and medical sources; reviews and summarizes medical records; evaluates case evidence, consults with medical and psychiatric doctors; performs multi-step sequential analysis according to Social Security disability rules and regulations; adjudicates and authorizes applications for disability benefits; and writes decisions and personal denial notices.
Green was also a case management specialist and team leader for the Office of General Counsel at the Social Security Administration in Boston.
In that role, Green provided comprehensive legal support to attorneys, supervisory attorneys, regional chief counsel and deputy regional chief counsel with Social Security disability and federal labor and employment litigation cases. She was also team leader of the paralegal staff and support department.
Green is certified as a notary public, has training in the fundamentals of appellate advocacy, privacy and disclosure of official records and information, Freedom of Information Act litigation, effective advocacy in disability litigation, business writing and plain-language writing, according to her resume.
As mother of a 17-year old Whitman-Hanson junior, Green said she can be passionate about Proposition 2-1/2 and school funding.
However, as an attorney, Green said she has been trained to separate personal and professional considerations. As assistant town administrator, Green said she could separate her personal feelings from the needs of the town on Proposition 2-1/2.
“You can’t let your personal feelings get involved in your professional decisions,” she said. “It’s got to be a balancing act. We know how Whitman and Hanson voters feel. We know how the schools feel. It’s got to be a balancing act and a tennis match.”
During his interview Tuesday, Mullen said he has strong passion for the “nuts and bolts” of local government, where, “the rubber meets the road.”
“It’s not a nine-to-five job and it never will be,” he said. “I know that going in with eyes wide open.”
Mullen leads the annual budget and legislative efforts of the 86-member MAAPS association, to support the work of Chapter 766 special education schools, and coordinates and mobilizes participation in the association’s grassroots network, which has nearly doubled in membership during the past two years.
Mullen was a chief of staff for the office of former Brockton mayor Linda Balzotti. He facilitated negotiations with
labor organizations, staff and department heads. He also directed day-to-day municipal operations and emergency response efforts in Brockton, the state’s seventh largest city, according to his resume.
Mullen coordinated project management efforts on the city’s $100-million downtown economic development initiative.
Mullen cited his efforts leading planning work on Brockton’s new $4.3-million City Hall Plaza renovation project. The city was awarded a grant for the project, and Mullen was asked to take the lead on it after he was hired. There is a firefighters’ memorial at the plaza that needed attention, and Mullen said he brought city firefighters into the planning process. He also worked with disability and accessibility advocates to address accessibility in the renovation project.
Mullen said he is able to bring people together to build respect and communicate.
“I’m proud of all that work and I hope to continue that work in Whitman,” he said.
Mullen, who served on the Rockland School Committee from 2007 to 2013, also cited his efforts as co-founder of the Rockland CARES Drug Abuse Coalition. He said two adjectives he would use to describe his candidacy are “passionate and caring.”
Mullen said Proposition 2-1/2 pre-dates him in terms of age.
“I view it to be a non-negotiable,” he said. “It’s the law of the land, unless there’s an override or debt-exclusion to go beyond the two-and-one-half levy limit. It’s a reality that every town has to live within, work within.”
Mullen said he is not sure he would be ready to take over for Lynam in three years should the incumbent town administrator should decide to retire at that time.
“I would really be interested. I would want to master the job as an assistant town administrator first,” he said.
After Tuesday’s interviews, Bezanson said Mullen offered quite a bit of municipal experience, which would be good for Whitman, but Green knows the players on the town committees and the intangibles of how Whitman operates.
“It’s a very tough decision to have to choose one. We’d like to have both of them, but we can’t,” he said.
Salvucci said both finalists are outstanding, but one of them, Green, made a statement about wanting to serve the people of Whitman that impressed him.
“That hit a home run,” he said.
Lambiase said both finalists are very strong candidates, but Green offers a lot of institutional knowledge and spent a lot of her time when she was a selectman acting as that board’s liaison to other town boards and committees.
Kowalski praised Mullen for his work with Rockland CARES and said the coalition has done good work in garnering the attention of parents, and that Whitman is still working toward that level of parent engagement.
Kowalski said Mullen should not be discouraged, and Lambiase predicted that people would be seeing a lot of Mullen in government in the future.