By CAROL ROBIDOUX
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – Today is judgment day for the five lead candidates for the job of Town Administrator.
Selected from a pool of 121 applicants from around the country, five – all men – will be interviewed by three panels in a daylong process that involves residents, town employees and managers.
Tomorrow, the town council will have their chance to ask the tough questions during an 8:30 a.m. non-public special meeting.
After sifting through the pile of resumes, Municipal Resources Inc. of Meredith whittled down the candidates based on qualifications and essay responses before presenting its top picks.
Although the names remain confidential at this stage of the process, some information is known – all five are male, four of the five are from New England; one is from the Midwest. Two of the five are currently employed in southern New Hampshire communities, and all of them believe they are the right fit for a town that has had more than its fair share of administrators – 18 town administrators, three mayors and six interim administrators.
The town sought volunteers for the interview panels. Originally there were to be 10 members of the citizens panel, but because only 11 applied, all 11 were seated. They are: Craig Bulkley, Betsy Burtis, Paul Dionne, Mark Grabowski, Christina Hitchcock, Andrew Manuse, David McPherson, Doug Newell, John O’Connor, Frank Santiago and Erich Whitney.
The nine employee panel members are: Larry Budreau, HR; Frank Childs, Finance; Joanie Cornetta, Transfer Station; Mike Gagnon, Fire; Chuck Hemeon, EMS; Janice Mobsby, Finance; Elizabeth Robidoux, Planning; Vern Thomas, Police; and Mike Willinsky, Fire.
Town Administrator Gary Stenhouse said the interview sessions will be moderated by a senior executive from MRI, and participants will rate the candidates based on their answers and the content of essay questions submitted. Those results will be weighed by the town council as the final decision is made.
“I suspect the process will take until sometime in September to resolve,” said Stenhouse.
Between coming to a decision, negotiations and allowing time for the new hire to give notice to his current employer, the current thinking is that Stenhouse will stay on through the beginning of October.
Each candidate submitted answers to essay questions asking them to discuss their management philosophy and leadership style; how they'd move forward to balance the budget while responding to town needs; and how they would handle rhetoric and personal attacks, while keeping political debate on track and civil.