Cheshire Selectmen Reach Agreement on Town Administrator Standoff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town's two selectmen may not yet have a town administrator, but they have agreed on a game plan.
During a much more amicable meeting Tuesday, the Board of Selectmen agreed to ask the three finalist candidates if they were interested in the position on an interim basis and if not, to ask retiring Town Administrator Mark Webber to stay on until the May elections.
"To my point of view, it is more important that we move on as a board and as a town," Selectman Robert Ciskowski said. "I think it is more important to move on and have continuity."
Earlier in the search process, the selectmen narrowed down their search to two candidates but were split between them: Ciskowski favored Thomas Spiro, former program coordinator at Elms College's Greenfield campus and town administrative aide in Conway, while Francesconi favored attorney and former selectman Edmund St. John IV
St. John withdrew his name from consideration over Ciskowski's comments about him but Francesconi was still unwilling to vote for Spiro.
They discussed hiring an interim administrator who would carry them to the May elections when a third member could be seated for a tie-breaking vote if need be.
As of last week, they were still split with Francesconi wanting to hire another former selectman, Daniel Delorey, in the interim and Ciskowski questioning the entire process.
The contentious meeting ended with no answers.
This was not the case Tuesday as Ciskowksi came out first with an olive branch and said although he did not want to hire an interim town administrator because he thought it would be cumbersome and a waste of training, he would entertain hiring one of the three finalist candidates with the option of possibly hiring him or her permanently.
"We will see what they are capable of and what they are not capable of," he said. "This way there would be some continuity and it might be a springboard for them."
At the end of the interim term, they could hire the candidate outright, wait for the May election, or open up the entire process again with the new board, he said.
Webber did have a concern that the gridlock wouldn't end, and that the Selectmen would not be able to come to an agreement for the interim town administrator, but Ciskowski said he would be willing to compromise.
"He [St. John] was not my first choice but I didn't say that I didn't think he could do it," he said. "I would be willing to maybe break the deadlock, but we would have to work the details out."
He added that even though St. John withdrew his application he would still want to extend to him the position.
Ciskowski did have a concern that the recent combative meetings may have turned all three away from the position.
"My concern is that my actions and yours we may have poisoned the candidates," he said. "I don't know what they have been following so I don't know what they think of Cheshire or whether they want the job anymore or not."
Francesconi offered her solution to try to convince Webber, who planned to retire in November, to stay on until May.
Eyes moved to Webber, who said he would do this but first wanted to see if one of the three finalist candidates were willing.
"Let me find out, let your idea float for a week, and let me find out if they are interested at all," he said. "Then if not and the two of you want to go with Carol’s suggestion in deference to the board, I would certainly consider that … so that is progress."
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