Cheshire Selectman Threatens to Resign Over Town Administrator Candidate
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The withdrawal of a favored town administrator candidate and the threatened resignation of one of the two remaining selectmen if he was hired has town officials wondering how to move forward.
Selectwoman Carol Francesconi on Tuesday night read a letter from town administrator applicant Edmund St. John IV stating that he would like to withdraw his name.
Last week the board was split between their two top candidates out of three: Francesconi wanted to hire St. John while Selectman Robert Ciskowski favored Thomas Spiro, the former program coordinator at Elms College's Greenfield campus and town administrative aide in Conway.
St. John stated in his letter that after receiving feedback about the board's discussions, he decided to step away.
"This was made upon my reflections of the interview process as well as feedback I have received of the board's deliberations," St. John wrote. "My hope is that by withdrawing the town can move forward in its search for a town administrator that would be a better fit for the selectmen."
Ciskowski then pulled a letter from his own pocket that stated his resignation as a selectman. He said he was willing to vote in favor of St. John but would not remain on the board.
"I just think it would be a difficult time. Ed is a great person and I have worked with him," he said. "He has a lot of fine qualities, but I think there is a philosophical difference and on my part too much of a generational difference."
The letter stated that he felt pressure to hire St. John and that he would not work well with him.
Ciskowski pocketed the letter and stated that he did not need to submit it to the town clerk at this point.
He then asked Francesconi if she would consider voting for Spiro.
"I liked his calmness and his experience with the variety of jobs he had," he said. "I think Ed could do it but he couldn't do it with me. I would have trouble with that. It would not be good for the town."
Francesconi said she would not vote for Spiro because she not think he was the best candidate for Cheshire.
"I am not going to vote for Mr. Spiro because I just don't think he is right for the town," she said. "He came in here not knowing anything about our town and that did not impress me."
She also wondered why he was not hired as town administrator in Conway after essentially holding all of the responsibilities for years.
The selectmen first thought it may be best just to reopen the posting to new candidates and those who have already applied, however, outgoing Town Administrator Mark Webber advised against this because the selectmen could still be split again in the end.
Ciskowski added that he feared Spiro would not apply again and the town would lose him.
Francesconi suggested hiring an Interim town administrator who could work for six months until the May election that would fill the board back up to three members. The job could be posted so that after the election the interviews could be held. There would be no way for a tie.
Ciskowski said he had concerns about a new member with no experience making such a decision.
"I think you and I are best suited to pick the administrator than a fresh green board member," he said. "I would be worried with a new board if someone came in, they would be overwhelmed or they may come in with an agenda."
The Selectmen agreed that they did not know who they would bring on as an interim town administrator. Ciskowski only said he would not want St. John to be chosen.
The third option would expedite the process and the town could hold a special election in roughly two months. The posting could be made a few weeks before a special election and the full board could have interviews then.
Webber, who planned to leave on November 1, said he could "hang on" for two months.
"Let's think about it and we will decide next week one way or the other," Francesconi said.
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