The search for a new city manager is in the homestretch with today’s announcement of the three finalists for the position: Jay Ash, Louis DePasquale and Paul Fetherston. The Council will vote Sept. 29 on a successor to Rich Rossi, who is retiring at the end of this month after 45 years with the city. A town hall Q&A forum, interviews and the vote will all be conducted in public, televised on Channel 22/CityView and live-streamed on the city’s website. The full schedule is in the city’s press release below.
I have not met Mr. Ash or Mr. Fetherston. Mr. Ash is a high-profile candidate by virtue of his cabinet role in Gov. Baker’s Administration and his prior experience as city manager in Chelsea. Our national search yielded one non-local finalist in Mr. Fetherston, whose experience in Asheville (NC) and Boulder, both small progressive cities, would seem quite relevant. As the lone inside candidate, Fiscal Affairs Manager Mr. DePasquale is, of course, well known at City Hall.
I note that three finalists are white men. The press release states that of the 15 semi-finalists, 27% (4) were women or people of color. I asked for a breakdown of the number of women and people of color in the total applicant pool and among those interviewed.
I am very excited to take part in this process and to hear how the candidates respond to the public’s questions at the Town Hall forum on Sept. 20. Please post any comments or questions you think will help inform my vote on Sept. 29.
Read the City’s official press release:
Today, City Councillor David P. Maher and City of Cambridge Personnel Director Sheila Keady Rawson, co-chairs of the Cambridge City Manager Preliminary Screening Committee (PSC), announced the names of the three finalist candidates being forwarded to the entire City Council for consideration, following a unanimous decision by the PSC.
The three finalists are:
Robert “Jay” Ash Jr. – Mr. Ash is currently the Secretary of Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Previously he served in a variety of roles in the City of Chelsea, including fourteen-years as City Manager. Mr. Ash also served as a legislative aide to Representative Richard Voke. He is a graduate of Clark University.
Louis A. DePasquale – Mr. DePasquale is the City’s Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs in Cambridge. Prior to taking on that assignment, he was the City’s Budget Director, and has also worked in other capacities in the City’s Budget and Treasury Departments. Mr. DePasquale is a graduate of Boston State College and received his MPA from Northeastern University.
Paul J. Fetherston – Mr. Fetherston is currently the Assistant City Manager in Asheville, NC. He has previously served as Deputy City Manager in Boulder, CO, and has held a variety municipal management positions in Connecticut. He is a graduate of Trinity College, CT and received his J.D. from Western New England School of Law.
A “Meet the Finalists” forum will be held on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, from 6-9 p.m., in the Fitzgerald Auditorium at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway where members of the public will have an opportunity to meet and hear each finalist’s vision for the city and answer questions. On Wednesday, September 21, beginning at 5:30 p.m., in the Sullivan Chamber at Cambridge City Hall, the City Council will conduct public interviews with the three finalists.
The City Council is expected to vote to appoint the next City Manager during a Special City Council Meeting on Thursday, September 29. Each meeting will be broadcast on 22-Cityview(the municipal cable channel) and can also be livestreamed online at www.CambridgeMA.GOV. Those attending the “Meet the Finalists” forum and the City Council’s public interviews will be provided the opportunity to give written feedback to the City Council.
The PSC was appointed by Mayor E. Denise Simmons and was comprised of 15 community members, reflecting citywide constituencies, and four City Council members. GovHR USA, the professional consulting firm hired to assist with the recruitment and hiring process, presented candidates for the committee’s review. According to Joellen Earl, CEO of GovHR USA, the Cambridge position attracted a diverse group of 55 candidates. The PSC conducted an in-depth review of 15 candidates, 27% of which were women or persons of color. The PSC ultimately offered interviews to 8 candidates. The interviews were held on September 12 and 13.
“This was a comprehensive well organized process to review and screen City Manager candidates for submission to the City Council,” said committee member Elaine DeRosa. “This was the first time that the city initiated a national search for the City Manager’s position. The committee worked hard to complete its task. I was honored to be a part of the process.”
The PSC members included resident representatives Peter Traversy, Elaine Thorne, and Laura Booth; large business representative Jay Kiely; small business representative Patrick Magee; Cambridge Public School representative Richard Harding; public safety representative Gerald Reardon; a person with demonstrated knowledge of municipal finance representative Fred Fantini, health and human services/public health representative Claude Jacob; person with knowledge of city planning/urban development representative Susan Schlesinger; higher education/institutional partner representative Kevin Casey; public art and/or recreational representative Ellen Semonoff, affordable housing advocate Susan Connelly, nonprofit community representative Elaine DeRosa, representative who advocates for the quality of our community’s civic and social well-being Reverend Lorraine Thornhill; and City Councillors Leland Cheung, David Maher, Nadeem Mazen, and Timothy Toomey.
“The screening committee was an extremely diverse and well informed group representing a wide range of interests in Cambridge,” said committee member Susan Schlesinger. “The process was professionally conducted and we had a talented group of candidates to consider. “It was honor to participate with other Cambridge residents and I look forward to following the extensive process which will occur in the next few weeks to select the next City Manager.”
The initial interviews performed by the PSC were preceded by a series of community focus groups, public meetings, and surveys, leading to the development of a leadership profile used during the recruitment phase.
“It was an honor to serve on the City Manager’s Preliminary Screening Committee with people who are committed and passionate about the growth and well-being of the city,” said committee member Rev. Lorraine Thornhill. “The diversity of opinions that were expressed highlighted the incredible richness of resources that this city is known for.”
For additional information about the City Manager search process, please visitwww.CambridgeMA.GOV/CityManagerSearch.
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Jan Devereux City Councillor Cambridge, MA