Valley News – Claremont launches the search for a city manager

Valley Correspondent

Posted: 12/31/2021 7:50:19 PM

Modified: 12/31/2021 19:49:51 PM

CLAREMONT – The city is set to embark on its third search for a city manager in just over five years after the recent resignation of Ed Morris, which comes nearly three years after city council sacked Ryan McNutt.

Morris was hired in the summer of 2019, several months after McNutt left in February of that year. McNutt was hired in 2017.

Morris, who was paid $ 122,000 a year and who was previously managing director of Weathersfield, is leaving next week to become managing director of Enfield.

Incoming Deputy Mayor Deborah Matteau, who was a member of the citizens’ committees that interviewed candidates when McNutt and Morris were hired, said she would like this research to end up with someone in the mold of Guy Santagate, who has was city manager for 15 years before retiring. in 2016.

Matteau was a strong supporter of Santagate and said he had accomplished a lot for the city and never tried to please everyone.

“I think some board members didn’t want to have another manager like Guy Santagate,” Matteau said of the last two hires.

Matteau said Santagate, a former banker and city manager in Chelsea, Massachusetts, had the right skills and was a strong leader, who at times was not suitable for individual advisers because he would only follow the entire board.

“You can’t try to make everyone happy all the time,” Matteau said. “You need (someone) with a strong backbone, because you’re going to have it from all angles. Sometimes you’ll have to ruffle a few feathers. I don’t mind someone ruffling the feathers as long as they are. he does the job, and Guy has done a lot for the city, he got results.

City council recently approved a contract with Municipal Resources Inc. of Meredith, NH, to search for the next city manager. In the research that ended with Morris being hired, the city did not use a professional research firm and instead relied on the citizens’ committee to draft the job list and conduct interviews. . Matteau thinks it was a big mistake.

“The pool of candidates (for the city manager) is shrinking and for this reason, I support the hiring of MRIs,” said Matteau. “We really need help finding someone.”

She also opposes the formation of a citizens’ committee to narrow the list of candidates to a few finalists and instead wants the board, which is ultimately responsible for hiring, to be in the process from the start with the IRM. .

Morris’s job performance has never been publicly discussed because it is a personnel issue; however, over the past year the council has met several times in non-public sessions on “staff” and the city manager is the only employee over whom the council has authority.

During McNutt and Morris’ terms, council voted to hire John MacLean, a former Keene city manager, to help them improve their management and communication skills. McNutt was fired just over two months after MacLean was hired to work with him. He was still working with Morris when Morris announced his resignation last month

MacLean, who was an interim manager after McNutt left, will serve again on an interim basis until a replacement for Morris is hired.

Incoming Mayor Dale Girard, who was not on the council when McNutt or Morris were hired, said MRI would interview councilors individually to get a profile of what the council is looking for in the next city manager. He hopes that a job offer can be ready within a month and published on various sites.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at