By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – It may be a result of tough economic times, but an overwhelming number of resumes poured in from around the country from candidates interested in being Derry's next town administrator.
According to Don Jutton of Municipal Resources Inc., the Meredith firm hired to conduct the search, the 121 applications received are the most he's seen in his 21 years on the job.
“Normally we get between 70 and 75 for a municipal position. This is the highest ever – we have 30 states represented and the education level is solid,” Jutton said.
Although the search is on schedule, the council Tuesday night voted to extend its contract with current town administrator, Gary Stenhouse, through Oct. 1. Stenhouse had announced he would retire at the end of his contract term in July.
“I have no problem with that, I want the town of Derry to get a good, credible town manager. Having me stay to show the stability we have here will help that process,” Stenhouse said.
Over the years Derry has employed 18 town administrators, three mayors and six interim administrators. The average tenure of a town administrator here is about two years, with the shortest term being nine months and the longest, just over five years.
During Tuesday's workshop, Jutton outlined the whittling down process, which has already begun – the top 29 candidates have been asked to answer written essay questions. Responses will be ranked and the top 10 to 15 will be interviewed by phone.
By July the finalists – up to six – will be interviewed by three panels – a professional panel made up of former and current municipal leaders; an panel of town employees; and a citizens panel.
Jutton explained that the various panels help with the vetting process. The citizens panel, in many instances, is also charged with helping the new hire to assimilate into the community.
“Coming into a job like this is tough on a good day,” Jutton said.