Christopher Ketchen, seen here at his interview on Saturday, was the unanimous choice of the Board of Selectmen to be the next town manager.
LENOX, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen hopes to bring Berkshire native Christopher Ketchen home as the next town manager.
The Selectmen unanimously voted at noon on Wednesday to enter contract negotiations with Ketchen, should he accept the position.
Ketchen is being asked to fill the post previously held by Gregory Federspiel.
Ketchen, the finance director for Hopkinton, stood out to the board for not only his financial background but also his "forward thinking." When interviewed, Ketchen emphasized his goals of long-term planning.
"I really felt Chris presented a forward thinking attitude," Selectman Channing Gibson said of his choice on Wednesday morning.
Ketchen, originally from Alford, earned his master's degree in public administration from the University of Massachusetts in 2000 and launched into a career in finance. He started in Maryland for the Prince George's county government, moving up to assistant to the deputy chief administrative officer and budget management analyst.
He moved back to Massachusetts in 2004 as a budget projects manager for Wellesley before a two-year stint as a project manager for the state Department of Revenue. He returned to Wellesley in 2008 as the director of general government before being recruited to be the finance director in Hopkinton, where he has been since July 2012.
"My long-term goal has always been to be a town manager in an exceptional community," he told the Selectmen during the interview process.
Ketchen presented himself as very ambitious, to the point where he cited his weakness was overloading himself. But that type of leadership is something board liked.
Selectman Ken Fowler said he liked Ketchen's ambition and that he was impressed with the amount of preparation he did for the interview.
Chairman David Roche added that Ketchen has experience working in Massachusetts government, which also gave him an edge over the other two finalists. Selectman Ed Lane added that finances are at the core of the job and Ketchen has great references and background in that sector.
But the decision wasn't easy. Several selectmen said that even though the interviews were on Saturday, their final decisions weren't made until Wednesday morning. The Selectmen also interview Litchfield, N.H., Town Administrator Jason Hoch and Pittsford, Vt, Town Manager John Haverstock.
Selectman John McNinch said he was particularly torn between Hoch and Ketchen because both fit what the town is looking for in a new manager. But ultimately, his vote went to Ketchen.
"I could go either way but I am leaning toward Chris," McNinch said.
The town has not had a town manager in nearly a year since Federspiel took a job in Manchester-by-the-Sea. A search committee poured through resumes and conducted interviews to narrow down the field to the finalists. The committee interviewed six candidates on Friday before recommending the three finalists to the board on Saturday.
"It's been an extremely long process," Roche said, but it provided the board with an "extremely strong group of candidates."
The board will have to reach agreement with Ketchen before he takes over the position.
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