Better communication between the county commission and a committee appointed to screen applicants for county manager would have helped the search run more smoothly, committee chairman Greg Coogan said this week.
Despite a fallout between the commissioners and the committee earlier this fall, Mr. Coogan said the committee will stand behind the vote the commission is expected to take next week for a new manager.
“We all strongly wish the best for the county,” said Mr. Coogan, reached this week by telephone.
The county manager seat has been vacant since August 17, when former manager E. Winn Davis left. County treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders is currently serving as acting county manager. As they launched a search for a new manager, county commissioners asked each town, the NAACP and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) to select one representative to serve on a screening committee. The committee was charged with reading and reviewing applications and recommending no more than three finalists.
At the end of September, after reviewing 12 applications, the committee recommended the commissioners readvertise for the position. Mr. Coogan said this week the commissioners gave the committee strict guidelines to use when considering the applicants. “They asked us for some specific things and the vast majority [of applicants] didn’t meet them,” he said.
The meeting between the search committee and the county commission was held in executive session. “The screening committee clearly felt our job was to get the best administrator on the planet,” Mr. Coogan said. “As a group, we were unwilling to bend on that.”
Following the recommendation, the county commission decided to proceed with the search on its own. One commissioner, Leonard Jason, declined to participate in the process. On Nov. 10, commissioners interviewed three applicants: Troy Clarkson of Falmouth, Thomas Bernardo of Chatham and Russell Smith of Aquinnah. Commissioners met last week and decided to postpone a vote on the candidates until their Dec. 5 meeting.
Mr. Coogan said this week the search would have benefited from less stringent guidelines, more communication between the committee and the commissioners, and the luxury of time. “We all rushed into it with deadlines in place,” he said.
He also lamented the loss of insight a steering committee could offer. “The value would have been in getting the perspective and the support of the towns because we all took part in that process,” he said. “Now we are in a wait-and-see pattern because we have, in essence, been pulled out of that process.”