A smile broke across outgoing Bourne Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi’s face when asked what the first thing he will do after he leaves Bourne Town Hall on his last day in office. A self-proclaimed optimist, Mr. Schiavi’s response reflected that description of himself.
“Cherish the memories and stay connected,” he said. “You build a lot of relationships in any job you had.”
Mr. Schiavi announced his resignation as Town Administrator in Bourne back in June. His last day as Bourne’s top executive will be Friday, September 3, although his official last day will be Monday, September 6. Since that is the Labor Day holiday, Town Hall will be closed anyway.
Mr. Schiavi’s tenure as town administrator in Bourne was a relatively short one, only 19 months. He declined to address the reasons that led to his decision to step away, saying that “the specifics were never really important.”
“Someone in a leadership position, you’re always assessing your ability to effectively manage and lead,” he said. “Sometimes certain things that may prevent that, especially if you come in as a change agent, sometimes your tenure can be a little bit shorter.”
Pressed as to what he meant by “effectively manage and lead,” Mr. Schiavi admitted that some things did happen to bring him to that realization. However, he reiterated that the specifics are not important, and he chose to keep them private, between himself and the Bourne Board of Selectmen.
“I think we all agreed that the best course of action was to work on an effective and smooth transition and to ensure that the town’s needs were taken care of,” he said.
Asked whether he plans to seek another town administrator or manager position, Mr. Schiavi said his focus is on the here and now and not on what he might do when the clock ticks down on his tenure in Bourne.
“If you ever saw my to-do list, I mean it’s three pages, two columns per page of things,” he said. “Every week I cross them off and add new stuff. I am focused 100 percent on that list until the day I leave, and then come after that we’ll see what happens, but right now I’m putting 100 percent of my effort into Bourne.”
Mr. Schiavi was hired as Bourne’s town administrator in October 2019. He succeeded former Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino, who held the post for nearly 15 years after being hired in 2005. Mr. Schiavi said he viewed his term as town administrator as a temporary link to Bourne’s next top executive.
“For me, it was more about being a bridge for the town,” he said, “from the past to whatever the future is. I know the town will continue to move forward with whoever it picks as its next town administrator. Hopefully, we’ve set a good base and a good platform for that.”
Mr. Schiavi described Bourne as being similar to many towns across Massachusetts, as being “at a crossroads for a number of issues.” A short list of those issues, he said, includes affordable housing, public safety and education as well as the prospect of two new bridges spanning the Cape Cod Canal and how that will impact the community.
The town’s location, at the top of Cape Cod and bisected by the canal, makes it unique and appealing in many ways, he said. Addressing the needs of the town’s ever-changing demographics, from retirees to young families to young professionals, is a challenge, he said.
“Our main thing is really providing top-quality services to all of the town and all of the residents and business community,” he said, “so you’re constantly wanting to stay in touch with that and making sure that you understand what each of those demographics is actually looking for.”
Asked what he felt his most significant accomplishment as town administrator was, Mr. Schiavi credited his staff at Bourne Town Hall, as well as the town boards and committees with whom he worked, with being the true impetus of achievement. If anything, he said, he empowered the people around him to bring about change.
“I don’t want to sit there and say, ‘Oh, I got this idea, go figure out how to make that happen,’” he said. “It’s really to empower them, build in them the confidence to be able to come up with ideas, bring them forward, try them out and then sort of bask in the success of what that leads to.”
As he readies to leave his post as Bourne’s top executive, Mr. Schiavi said he has no regrets about his time as town administrator. The one thing that does stand out for him is COVID-19 and its impact on the time he was in office.
“Things that used to be easy to do became hard, things that were hard became difficult, and difficult became almost impossible because of COVID,” he said, “so things moved slower than I would have liked.”
The pandemic, he said, took priority over a number of other issues such as moving forward with efforts to install a new fire station on the south side of the canal. How to reuse the former Bourne Police Department building on Main Street, as well as the shuttered Eleanor F. Hoxie Elementary School, also had to take a back seat, he said.
“On most days we have 12 hours of work to fit into an 8-hour day, every day,” he said. “It’s just a reality of the business as things change and things get put upon you that you didn’t anticipate, like a pandemic, those become a priority.”
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.
Mr. Schiavi said he has no future political aspirations.
“No!” he said emphatically. “That one I can definitely tell you to check off the list. Been there, done that.”