SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen interviewed the three finalist candidates for the position of town administrator on Monday night in preparation for a decision that they hope to make by Wednesday morning.
Vying to replace former Town Administrator Jean Kitchen are: West Boylston Town Administrator Leon Gaumond Jr., Lincoln Assistant Town Administrator Anita Scheipers and Ashland Interim Town Manager Mark Purple.
Gaumond, who has served as the West Boylston town adminstrator since 2004 and worked in local government for over 20 years, stressed his belief in civic participation among residents.
"I’m a big believer in civic involvement and civic participation," he said. "And I know it makes my life easier when people have an abundance of information going into town meeting."
He also talked about regularly using "performance measurement" to review the performance of various town departments. "I use this as a report to the community," he said. "I use it as a way of measuring how way we are doing against ourselves."
Gaumond said that, if chosen, he looked forward to working with the department heads in Southborough after hearing what former Town Administrator Jean Kitchen had to say about them. He added that "it's important that the next town administrator be skilled at building teams."
As his first act upon taking the position, Gaumond said he would try to introduce himself to as many people in town as possible.
"I attend more meetings than you would imagine," he said.
Purple told selectmen that he thought Southborough would be a good place "to develop a team." He said that he was interested in a small town with "a little diversity in its tax base" that was looking for some economic development.
Purple has served as Ashland’s interim town administrator since June, and was formerly the assistant town manager in Framingham. He said that his impression of Southborough department heads was of people who had ideas for saving money, but who were looking for someone to help champion the effort. "I would be very comfortable in that role," he said.
Purple stressed that his work ethic was one of the major factors qualifying him for the position. "I don’t think that I would ask somebody to do something that I wouldn't be willing to do myself," he said.
Scheipers, a former nurse, said that this experience helped her learn how to deal with people.
She has served not only as the assistant town administrator in Lincoln but also as the town administrator in Ayer and Boylston, and said that she saw the role of an administrator "as part of a team."
In addition, she said that her previous service on the Bolton Board of Selectmen and Planning Board gave her insight into what local elected officials have to deal with. "It brings an understanding of the specific mechanics of the responsibilities of each of those boards," she said.
"I've been there," she added. "I understand what you're going through."
Saying that one of the biggest issues Southborough faces is capital planning, she promised to spend her first few weeks in her new position getting to know the town’s finances.
"I’d like to think I have the ability to balance the different needs of the community," she said.
Selectmen will meet again at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the Southborough Town House to vote on their choice for the next town administrator.