READING – A vote, a signature, and a Reading Rocket hat made it official Tuesday night. Fidel Maltez will be the new Reading Town Manager.
Pending final CORI/SORI checks, Maltez will take over when Bob LeLacheur leaves on Feb. 25. He will be Reading’s third Town Manager, and join an exclusive list of past and present town CEOs that includes Peter Hechenbleikner, who retired in 2013 and handed the position off to LeLacheur.
There was no debating and no discussion before last night’s vote. The Select Board endorsed Maltez with a 5-0 vote, followed by rare applause in the Select Board Meeting Room. Much of the applause came from town department heads present for the occasion. The board then signed the agreement along with Maltez. His official start date is Feb. 15.
“We’re really excited about this opportunity for us as a family,” said Maltez.
Maltez was joined by his family Tuesday, including his wife Maria who he met in high school, and daughters Maya (8-years-old and in second grade) and Anna Victoria (4, and in pre-k).
“We understand these are more than fulltime positions in public service and we know it takes a village and a family to support each other,” said chair Karen Herrick. “We’re very excited to get to know you.”
Board member Anne Landry presented Maltez with a Reading Rocket hat and the wish to do more in the future.
“We’d love to do something later, once the surge has subsided, to welcome you to the broader community,” said Landry.
LeLacheur, who has been silent during the hiring process, spoke Tuesday about Maltez during his Town Manager report.
“I want to congratulate the board on picking what seems to be a fine choice. I’m very excited to work with him on the transition for whatever amount of time that takes,” said LeLachuer, who met Maltez for the first time Tuesday. “Fidel had already mentioned, and this will come as no surprise to any of you, several members of the community have already reached out to him. I’m really glad about that and I would encourage more people to do that, especially as he’s new. As he says, he has a lot to learn but he has a community that’s welcoming him with open arms, which is great.”
Maltez comes to Reading from Chelsea, where he was the DPW Commissioner and had been in that position since 2019. Prior to that he was Assistant Commissioner for two years and worked for 12 years as an engineer for Cintas Corporation, with almost three years spent in China. He was born in Nicaragua, moved to Miami with his family, and graduated from Lafayette College in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He then earned a Master’s in Public Policy from Tufts in December.
LeLacheur announced he was stepping down at the Aug. 10 Select Board meeting and his final day is Feb. 25. LeLacheur moved into Reading in 1995 and volunteered for the Finance Committee for nine years. He then became Assistant Town Manager under Hechenbleikner and when Hechenbleikner retired, LeLacheur took over on March 12, 2013.
After LeLacheur’s surprising announcement, the town formed an AD Hoc Town Manager Search Committee composed of Landry, Herrick, Library Director Amy Lannon, Fire Chief Greg Burns, Town Moderator Alan Foulds, and residents Chris Feudo, and Emily Sisson.
The committee was assisted by Bernie Lynch, the Managing Principal of Community Paradigm Associates and the town’s consultant in the search.
Twenty-three candidates applied for the position and committee narrowed it down to seven semifinalists. Those seven were interviewed at the Reading Public Library on Nov. 22 and 23. From that group, three finalists were selected.
Maltez was interviewed by the full Select Board on Dec. 7, along with finalists Jennifer Phillips and Patrice Garvin. Phillips would later drop out, which left the decision between Maltez and Garvin, the Belmont Town Administrator.
On Dec. 15, the Select Board voted 5-0 in favor of Maltez. After contract negotiations, the board made it official Tuesday with another unanimous vote, six signatures, and a new hat.