Lanesborough Hires Australian Election Official as Town Administrator
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The town has hired Gina Dario, an Australian election official, as its new Town Administrator.
Dario, a North Adams native and Dalton resident, is currently the assistant commissioner at the Australian Electoral Commission in Canberra, where she has worked for nearly two decades. Dario was the only candidate interviewed by the Board on Monday, who approved her hire, ending an administrator search that started after Town Administrator Joshua Lang resigned in August.
Dario explained that she wanted to return to the Berkshires after spending much of her career abroad. Despite not having municipal experience in the state, Dario pointed to her public service in Australia's elections as valuable work experience for the role.
"I haven't wanted to go outside of the Berkshires. I've wanted to stay in the Berkshires," she said. "For me, the town administrator position is an opportunity that would capitalize on the skills and experiences that I've been using in public service for the better part of my professional career. To apply it in a community that I love, a place that I've always treasured and valued and some place that I feel a deep connection to."
When asked what she knows about Lanesborough and its problems, Dario referenced the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and the new state administration as significant issues to pay attention to. She said working with the local community and being available is crucial to the role and that she will bring a fresh perspective.
"Accessibility, I think, as a leader, particularly in this role, I think is key," she said. "This is a small community; we want engagement, we want people to feel like they have a connection point they have a voice. I really see this position as an ambassador for the town ... I will always take the time, listen, be available, take the concerns down and try to try to get an understanding of what the root cause might be and try to facilitate a path forward."
Board Member Michael Murphy, the only dissenting vote to the hire, said he was disappointed no one from the town was brought forward for an interview. He explained that his dissenting vote had nothing to do with Dario's qualifications.
"You answered the questions exactly as I had hoped you would. You bring a lot of the skills that I would look for in any qualified applicant for the position," he said.
Board Member Timothy Sorrell made the motion to offer Dario the position.
"I'm happy with her interview. I have faith in the committee that went through this process and they sent her forward as a finalist. And I'm willing to support her as a candidate and offer the job," he said.
In other business, the board tabled a proposed host community agreement with JMJ Holdings Corporation following a community outreach meeting last month. All three board members said they wanted more information before approving the agreement.
"They're just not doing their portion that we feel to maintain the overall property. There we just have concerns," said Board Chair John Goerlach.
Town Counsel Nicole Costanzo of KP Law said this draft of the agreement took feedback from the outreach meeting regarding odor, wastewater controls and the general condition of the facility. The board, however, wanted more specific language in the agreement regarding these and other issues.
"With respect to any violations at the property, they will not be able to create the establishment to open the establishment until they fully bring this space up to code," Costanzo said. "The host community agreement does say that they will be required to comply with all applicable laws, meaning state building code, zoning bylaws, fire code, board of health regulations. That is in the host community agreement."
Costanzo reiterated several times that this agreement is specifically with J&J Holdings rather than the property owner. She suggested the town look into a development agreement with the property owner to address its concerns with the entire mall property.
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