A new era has dawned in the Town of Bourne. After nearly 15 years under the watch of Thomas M. Guerino, Bourne has a new town administrator.
The board of selectmen has chosen Anthony E. Schiavi of Harwich to be Bourne’s top executive.
Mr. Schiavi was chosen after a marathon session of interviews and deliberation on Saturday, October 5. He was one of three candidates interviewed for the position.
The others also interviewed were Robin L. Craver, former town administrator in Charlton, and Robert E. Whritenour, current town administrator for Oak Bluffs.
Each candidate was interviewed for roughly an hour and a half. The sessions were conducted at the Bourne Veterans Memorial Community Center in Buzzards Bay. The board deliberated for about an hour and 20 minutes after the interviews were concluded.
Mr. Schiavi was chosen in a unanimous vote by the board.
He will succeed Mr. Guerino, whose contract expired September 30.
Born in Framingham and raised in Holliston, Mr. Schiavi came to Cape Cod in 1992. In 2013 he retired as a brigadier general with 30 years of service in the US Air Force and Massachusetts Air National Guard. He was commanding officer of the 102nd Fighter Wing and 102nd Intelligence Wing at Joint Base Cape Cod.
After his retirement from the Air Force, Mr. Schiavi was appointed town manager in Ashland. He was sworn in on March 27, 2013, but did not start his new position until June 17, due to some final military obligations.
Two years later, he stepped down as Ashland’s town manager to focus on his campaign for the Cape and islands state Senate seat being vacated by Daniel A. Wolfe. Running as a Republican, Mr. Schiavi lost that 2016 election to the current state senator, Democrat Julian A. Cyr of Truro.
During his interview with the Bourne selectmen, Mr. Schiavi assured the board that, if appointed town administrator, he would not suddenly leave to run again for public office.
He also spoke at length about his management style, which is to hold employees accountable for their actions, but to also develop in town workers a sense of ownership in their department.
He said team building is “one of my strongest suits,” and touched on topics ranging from budgeting to personnel to strategic planning.
He also noted that he ran the wastewater treatment plant on Joint Base Cape Cod for a number of years. That experience and knowledge, he suggested, will be beneficial when the new wastewater plant in Buzzards Bay is in operation, as well as negotiating the town’s wastewater agreement with Wareham.
Mr. Schiavi told the board he sees several personnel needs that would be beneficial to the town. Chief among them is an economic development officer, who, he said would be “a worthwhile investment.”
In Ashland, he said, he made it a mandate that all departments think about economic development, and report any possible revenue-generating project to the economic development department.
“That was one of our culture shifts within town government,” he said, “was to make sure everybody had a focus on economic development, so that we were all in sync on how everything we do can have a positive economic development impact.”
He said that the town also needs a human resources director, a function that Mr. Guerino had assumed, and a facilities manager, given a new school, a new police station, and a new fire station on the horizon.
Board members said that each of the candidates they interviewed were suitable as the town’s next administrator. Members pointed to Mr. Schiavi’s outgoing personality and his ability to command attention.
“He’s well-spoken,” Selectman Jared P. MacDonald said. “You can see from his composure and the way he carries himself, he is a true leader.”
It was felt that the new administrator needs to have that kind of presence to ensure that Bourne’s voice is heard by state and federal officials on such projects as replacement of the Cape Cod Canal bridges, commuter rail to Bourne, and redevelopment of downtown Buzzards Bay.
Board chairman Judith M. Froman said Bourne tends to be “a quiet town” that “lets other people take care of things.”
“We have to speak up,” she said. “We have to be at the forefront of what we want to do.”
Concerns were expressed by members that Mr. Schiavi’s civilian management experience was limited to just his two-plus years in Ashland. Selectman James L. Potter said that it was somewhat difficult to judge Mr. Schiavi “when you have just one small municipal snapshot.”
Ms. Froman concurred with Mr. Potter, but added that, on the positive side, Mr. Schiavi’s tenure was in a town with a similar size to Bourne. Selectman Peter J. Meier said that, while Mr. Schiavi served a short time, “Ashland’s come a long way under his leadership.”
When it came time to vote, Mr. Meier put all three candidates’ name into nomination. Mr. Potter then nominated Mr. Whritenour individually. The board voted one in favor, four opposed, to that nomination. Mr. Potter’s was the only positive vote.
Mr. Schiavi’s name was then put into nomination and the board voted five in favor, none opposed.
Board members did not vote on Ms. Craver.
Mr. Schiavi’s appointment was made contingent on successful contract negotiations being conducted between both sides.