© The Stoneham Independent

STONEHAM, MA - Finishing well ahead of schedule, a 10-member search panel last week recommended three job finalists to replace former Town Administrator Thomas Younger.

During a gathering in Town Hall on Monday night, Board of Selectmen Chair Shelly MacNeill notified her colleagues that the following candidates were being recommended for the management post:

• Assistant Lynnfield Town Administrator Robert Curtin;

• Somerville attorney and Alderman at-large William White;

• and Melrose resident Dennis Sheehan, who serves as the director of administration and finance for Watertown's public works department.

According to MacNeill, who was appointed chairperson of the Town Administrator Search Committee, the advisory group is recommending that the Board of Selectmen conduct site visits at each finalist's current workplace, before conducting final interviews on Nov. 26.

Town Counsel William Galvin also also urging the board to authorize a full background check on all three job candidates.

That secondary review, to be conducted in addition to regular employment screens performed by Human Resources Director Donna Gaffney, will presumably spare everyone involved from any unpleasant surprises before a job offer is made.

"Mr. Galvin recommended doing a pre-employment background check. It costs about $350 to $600 for a town administrator's position," said MacNeill, explaining an investigator will dig more deeply into each candidates financial and employment histories. "It's a full background check…so we don't end up in a similar position [as during other job hunts].

Though not mentioning the individual by name, during the selection process that ultimately led to Younger's hiring in the fall of 2016, a previous candidate had been offered the position.

Specifically, in Aug. of 2016, the Board of Selectmen selected Tewksbury resident Jeffrey Towne for the position. In a whirlwind of activity, Towne, at the time serving as a deputy manager in Natick Town Hall, accepted the Stoneham job but then abruptly tended his resignation before ever setting foot in Town Hall.

Formed just months ago, the Town Administrator Search Committee conducted its vetting process at a remarkable pace, considering that the deadline for submitting resumes for the opening closed during the first weeks of October.

In total, about 40 applicants submitted resumes expressing interest in succeeding Younger, who resigned from his Town Hall post in late August.

The initial pool of candidates was immediately narrowed down to 21 applicants by Gaffney, before the search committee decided to interview eight semi-finalists.

Before forwarding its recommendation to the Board of Selectmen, the panel asked each finalist to prepare a written essay.

That document will outline a candidates qualifications, prior experience with, and philosophy about contract talks with collective bargaining units, handling employee discipline, preparing and overseeing an operating budget, strategic planning, and performance evaluations.

Each finalist is also expected to explain how they will provide objective policy advise to the Board of Selectmen, even if that recommendation flies against popular opinion.

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