LANCASTER – Now that Community Paradigm Associates LLC has been selected as the search firm for a new permanent city administrator, John Petrin discussed the process with the Selectboard on Monday, January 3.
Petrin, the Lancaster liaison on the project, is a Bolton resident who served as the city administrator of Burlington for seven years before retiring; previously, he was a Harvard city administrator from 1988-2001. He was also past president of two city associations.
He said it was an 11-step process that included meeting with selectors, researching, writing a position statement, advertising and active recruiting, reviewing resumes, selecting and interviews of semi-finalists, background checks of finalists and assistance in the selection of the new employee.
The selection committee was to decide whether Community Paradigm Associates would review the resumes and interview the semi-finalists on their own or with a selection committee. Petrin said the business would be faster and it was very important that this part be confidential and that no names be released until public interviews are scheduled for the finalists.
Petrin explained that if the names of the semi-finalists were disclosed, it would be very bad for the city’s reputation.
The selection board should maintain confidentiality, refrain from background checks or calling people from other communities who know candidates for advice, even after the process is complete.
Selectman Jay Moody said it’s safer not to have a search committee because it only takes one person to make a mistake to cause a problem. His motion not to have one adopted unanimously.
Petrin said the process would take just under 14 weeks.
Selectman Alix Turner said the Selectboard includes the official job description for the city administrator, but each city is unique and it needs to determine what kind of “characteristics and priorities” are desired.
Petrin said the next step is to meet with the selected people individually and gather three opinions, then pull them together into one document to guide the research. He said they also “need to know the flavor of the community” to help chat with candidates when recruiting.
The city administrator market right now is expected to bring in around 30 total nominees for a city like Lancaster, Petrin said, with seven or eight “serious” people making it to the semi-finals before three finalists are selected.
Community Paradigm was recently hired by Sterling to do their city administrator search as well.