Round three

One year in, Brattleboro keeps searching for a new Town Manager

BRATTLEBORO — The good news: town search committees tasked with choosing a new town manager can spot great candidates.

The bad news: other communities have snapped up the great candidates ahead of Brattleboro.

The Selectboard announced at its regular July 15 board meeting that it is ready to proceed with the third round of its town manager search.

Board Chair David Gartenstein told the public that the board reopened the search for the second time in February. The town received 43 applications by its April deadline.

Gartenstein said that the second pool of candidates proved stronger and showed a greater diversity - notably in that more female candidates are identified - compared to applications received in the first round last year.

In May, the board and department heads met with six of the 43 candidates. The board chose two for follow-up interviews with the board, an employee committee, and a citizen committee.

According to Gartenstein, the committees identified one of the candidates as the best match for Brattleboro.

This person had a strong background in government and a “very strong, progressive vision,” said Gartenstein, but unfortunately, this candidate took a job in his hometown, preferring to not uproot his young family.

Gartenstein also waggled a metaphorical finger at the audience over an article that appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer on July 8.

In the article, “Brattleboro Town Manager candidate declines offer,” Spoon Agave, a member of the Town Manager Search Citizen Committee, discussed the committee's reaction to the top candidate.

He also said that the committee recommended to the board that it not offer the job to the second candidate.

Although Agave did not divulge personal details pertaining to the top candidate or the runner-up, Gartenstein said he felt the interview broke a “confidential process” and commitments the board had made to the candidates.

“It really did harm to the process as a whole,” Gartenstein complained of the interview.

The board is considering reconstituting the Citizen Search Committee, he added.

Meanwhile, the board has approved entering into another service contract with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns to help advertise the position. VLCT also will gather and screen initial applications.

Interim Town Manager Patrick Moreland has said he pursued the job in the second round and that “I fully anticipate participating in the third round as well.”

Last summer, then-Assistant Town Manager Moreland took over for long-serving Town Manager Barbara Sontag, who left to take a job out of state.

“I'm fully confident the board will make the best decision for the town of Brattleboro and I look forward to the next round,” he said.

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