WHITMAN — The Board of Selectmen has contracted with Community Paradigm Associates of Plymouth to conduct a search for the town’s new town administrator during the board’s Tuesday, Sept. 22 meeting. The vote was 4-1, with Selectman Brian Bezanson voting for Municipal Resources Inc., (MRI), of Meredith, N.H,
Current Town Administrator Frank Lynam is retiring, effective Oct. 13.
Rather than conduct official presentations, the board had both organizations simply answer questions from selectmen, based on materials presented to the board in advance. Lynam had already reached out to references from both companies.
“All of the people I have been able to contact have had very positive things to say about both organizations,” Lynam said.
Paradigm was represented by Bernard Lynch, Sharon Flaherty and John Petrin, representatives of the firm, who would be working on Whitman’s recruitment effort.
MRI had managed the search for Hanson’s new town administrator last year. Was represented by Robert Mercier and Reginald “Buzz” Stapscynski.
Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski asked both firms why Whitman should select them.
“Because we’re better than everybody else,” Lynch said. “We have the most extensive experience in Massachusetts over the last several years.”
Lynch said Paradigm is the most active recruiting firm in the state with more than 50 town administrator searches to its credit. Recent area searches have included Pembroke, Plympton, East Bridgewater, Lakeville and Rockland. They are also currently working with Kingston.
“We know the region very well, we know the manager world very well,” said Lynch who has served as a town administrator for 30 years and Petrin has done so for nearly 40 years in Massachusetts. They generally get pools of 30 to 40 candidates.
“The list of towns [they serve], basically in our area, is very impressive,” said Selectman Dan Salvucci.
“What I like about this firm is that they are kind of local and they’ve got a finger on the pulse of the South Shore and how things operate here,” Bezanson agreed, before asking how long the average search process takes.
Lynch said they have brought it down from 16 to 14 weeks, but have done it in as little as 11 weeks. They take a couple of weeks to talk to Selectmen and department heads to learn about a community, before writing up a mission statement about the community and what it looks like to match with the ideal candidate.
“We want to find you the ideal candidate, so we want to know what you want,” Lynch said. Then they spend about four weeks doing active recruiting and advertising, then screening candidates to present finalists to the board.
“We’ll probably have a Supreme Court justice before you guys are finished,” Kowalski quipped.
Selectman Justin Evans asked if, having done so many searches in the same area, the firm has seen a lot of repeat candidates on their lists. Lynch said that they do, but that they also bring in new candidates.
Mercier said his firm has been in the business for more than 30 years, with a “long reach” in New England, recently finishing jobs in Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island as well as “a ton” in Massachusetts.
“We have chosen, during this COVID time, lots of communities that are just out of our reach,” he said. “We have nothing on our plate right now. You would be our committed community.”
MRI, according to Stapscynski also represents a lot of town administration experience under their belts.
“We’ve sat in the chair you are looking to fill,” Stapscynski said.
Mercier also said their firm places a lot of importance on talking to Selectmen to determine a community’s needs.
MRI’s procedure takes about three months, including written responses to questions applicants have been asked to answer.
Selectmen asked Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green to absent herself from their deliberations before voting to select Paradigm.
“Really [the decision will come down to] preference, but I don’t know how we could go wrong either way,” Evans said.
“Both companies are outstanding,” Salvucci said, noting his preference went toward Paradigm. “The towns that they did were more like Whitman. … They’re more in tune to our type of community.”
Kowalski preferred the interstate experience of MRI.
“They were a lot more pointed in the description of our issues and our environment than I expected them to be,” he said.
Bezason leaned toward Kowalski’s view, pointing to Paradigm’s clients as akin to “the usual suspects.”
Selectman Randy LaMattina said the profile document Paradigm did on Kingston was impressive, but also harbored some concern about the depth of the talent pool. It was not a big enough concern, however, for him to vote against Paradigm.
Lynam said he is familiar with both organizations and respects both of them.