James Potter

Selectman James Potter participates in the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday.

A difference of opinion surfaced over the composition of the search committee that will recommend candidates for Bourne’s new town administrator.

The search committee will make its recommendations to the Bourne Board of Selectmen, and one member of the board felt at least one selectman should be included on the committee.

Selectman James L. Potter stood alone against the other members Tuesday night, August 7, in his belief that the search committee should include at least one selectman, possibly two. Mr. Potter also suggested that, in addition to the board member(s), the committee should include a representative from the Bourne School Committee and four citizens.

Mr. Potter noted that Community Paradigm Associates of Plymouth, the consultant firm hired by the town to coordinate the search, supplied the board with several samples of town administrator search committees from other communities. Each sample, he said, showed members of that town’s board of selectmen included in the membership.

Mr. Potter also suggested that a selectman would bring to the committee the experience needed as to what the board of selectmen would be looking for in terms of candidate qualifications.

“It’s one thing to look at resumes,” he said. “It’s another to know what the expectation of the position is beyond the resume.”

The search is being undertaken to replace Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino. Recently, Mr. Guerino and the board of selectmen came to an agreement to end his employment with the town. The administrator has expressed a desire to seek employment closer to his family in Vermont.

Community Paradigm has been hired by the town to assist in the selection of potential candidates for the position.

Selectman Peter J. Meier immediately disagreed with Mr. Potter’s suggestion. Mr. Meier said he understands the need to include people in such positions as the chairman of the town finance committee, and a representative from the school committee.

Ideally, he said, the committee should be free of anyone in town government.

“They’re the taxpayers of the town, the registered voters of the town,” he said. “I want them to be able to have their say.”

Mr. Meier added that some of the people who have already applied to be on the search committee are, in fact, former Bourne selectmen. Those people, he suggested, will bring the experience and expertise Mr. Potter was concerned the committee could lack.

In addition, the president and founder of Community Paradigm, Bernard F. Lynch, is himself a former city manager. Mr. Lynch also assisted the Town of Bourne in its selection of current finance director, Erica Flemming, Mr. Meier said.

A current member of the board of selectmen on the search committee is unnecessary, he said.

“I don’t think we have to worry so much about people not knowing what we’re looking for,” he said.

Board chairman Judith M. Froman noted that each member of the board of selectmen was interviewed by Community Paradigm for a profile the company drafted of the Town of Bourne and its position of town administrator. Ms. Froman said that members’ input from those interviews should stand as the board’s involvement until the final candidates are brought forward for selectmen to make a selection.

Ms. Froman added that the selectmen have additional input by being the ones who select the committee members. Also, she said, the final say on who is selected as the new town administrator is up to the selectmen.

“If we don’t approve or don’t want any of the people put forward,” she said, “we have the right to say start over.”

Selectman Jared P. MacDonald said he was initially in favor of having two board members on the committee. He has since had second thoughts and now believes it more important to have people from the community. He suggested having a board member serve as a liaison to the committee.

Selectman George G. Slade said that putting a select board member on the committee would give the appearance of meddling in the selection process, something he wanted to avoid.

Mr. Slade admitted to wanting to be on the search committee, but felt more strongly that there should be a separation between the board and the committee.

Both Mr. Slade and Mr. MacDonald said they would like to see a full accounting of each committee member’s decision-making on each candidate brought forward.

The selectmen agreed to appoint a committee of seven people. An advertisement has been placed on the town’s website calling for a committee with “a broad spectrum of citizen engagement.” Board members said they want people with financial experience, school experience, and business experience, particularly with regard to the local business community.

Deadline for submitting a letter of interest and resume is Monday, August 19.

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