Brattleboro names town manager to start Dec. 30

Town hires John Potter, of Colorado, after a five-month nationwide search

BRATTLEBORO — A Colorado government employee with a long resume of municipal management will begin work on Dec. 30 as the new town manager.

In a news release from the Selectboard, which announced the hiring on Tuesday, John R. Potter said that he looks forward “to earning the trust of the town.”

As deputy director of the Open Space and Mountain Parks Department in Boulder since 2016, Potter oversees a division of 50 staff members and managing a budget of between $4 million and $7 million, annually - a wide spread because the budget would vary from year to year based on capital projects, he told The Commons in a brief telephone interview on Tuesday night.

Previously, he worked for the state of Oregon as senior policy advisor in the Department of State Lands and as assistant director responsible for managing Oregon's state park system. There, he led a team of 725 and oversaw an annual budget of $60 million.

Earlier in his career, Potter was the director of land management for New York City's Bureau of Water Supply; the land superintendent for the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank Commission; and a manager for Land's Sake, Inc. in Weston, Massachusetts, a nonprofit educational working farm connecting people, food, and land.

He has extensive administrative experience in the management of public lands, facilities, and services, and has collaborated on numerous, complex, cross disciplinary and intergovernmental projects throughout his career.

The eastern Massachusetts native earned a bachelor's degree in history from Williams College and a master's degree in forest management from Yale University.

He said that he and his wife, Marie Elena, a real estate professional, are excited to move back to New England and become active members of the Brattleboro community.

“We've been out west for 15 years or so,” Potter said. “We really wanted to start looking to get closer to our family.”

He said that the possibility of working in Brattleboro jumped out at him because had experienced “the positives of the place.” As a college student in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he would visit southern Vermont and was “always interested in Brattleboro and found it a great community.” Earlier in his career, he also worked in and around the area as a forester.

And during the interview process, Potter had what he termed “a great meeting” with town department heads and said he was excited about the quality of staff that he will be working with.

“I want to find a great future - that's what I'm all about,” he said.

A nationwide search

Mercer Group Associates, a national public sector executive search and consulting firm, assisted the Selectboard with its search.

The town “received many applications from Vermont and several other states and considered a number of candidates with extensive public management experience,” Selectboard Chair Ian Goodnow said in a news release.

“We considered many well-qualified candidates during our nationwide search,” he said. “The Selectboard conducted this process with care and diligence, and we are very pleased with the result.”

Goodnow said the board is “confident that John Potter has an enthusiasm for good governance and for Brattleboro that he will bring to his new role. We look forward to working with John for the benefit of the people of Brattleboro.”

The board said it conducted initial interviews with several semifinalists, and second interviews with a small number of finalists.

Goodnow acknowledged Patrick Moreland, assistant town manager, for his “valuable service as interim town manager.” He also thanked Moreland and Human Resources Director Sally Nix for their “contributions throughout the search process.”

The town manager, who is appointed by and works under the direction of the five-member Selectboard, is responsible for a General Fund budget of $20 million; for enterprise funds for water/sewer and for downtown parking; and for 140 full-time employees.

The town manager also works with the 140-member Representative Town Meeting on final approval of the town budget, borrowing for large-scale capital projects, and other major policy decisions.

Potter succeeds Octavian “Yoshi” Manale, who held the position for five months before resigning. Manale is now the city manager in Claremont, New Hampshire.

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