Passed Over Again, Clark Hunkers Down In Harwich

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Board of Selectmen News

Harwich Town Administrator Christopher Clark.  WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — Town Administrator Christopher Clark said on Tuesday he plans to remain in town and direct his attention to getting ready for the upcoming town meeting in May.

Clark made the statement after learning late Monday night he was not selected for the town administrator's position in Millis, where he was one of three finalists. The Millis board of selectmen voted unanimously to offer the job to Michael Guzinski, town administrator in Douglas.

The past year has been an unsettling one for Clark. Last spring he was seeking a three-year extension to his contract and selectmen, on a three-two vote, gave him a two-year extension but declined to provide him with a 2 percent salary increase. The town administrator and selectmen also did battle over goals and objectives during the past year.

Clark said he came to the conclusion he was not the right fit for Harwich and began looking for jobs in other communities in late summer. He was the finalist for town administrator and town manager positions in several communities over the past three months: he was one of two finalists in the town of Yarmouth; a finalist for the town manager's positions in East Longmeadow and Millbury; and one of three finalists for the town administrator's position in Millis.

“I didn't get it,” Clark said Tuesday morning of the Millis position. “My mixed emotions must be coming out.”

The mixed emotions he referred to have to do with his present job in Harwich. He admitted it was a rough start for him, with issues with several major department heads as well as staff departures. But those issues are behind him and things are now running smoothly, he said.

“I like the workforce here and have a good relationship with department heads,” Clark said. “I've had some communications issues with selectmen and that has been the impetus to look for work elsewhere.” But, he added, “I like where I work, I like the people here.”

Clark said he gets along well with the water commission, the capital outlay committee and the finance committee The latter two committees have had high praise for Clark for information provided and shaping the latest capital plan.

“With the selectmen it runs hot and cold,” Clark admitted.

“I'd feel better if there was a better relationship with the town administrator. That's an issue that better be resolved in the next year or two,” Selectman Peter Hughes told The Chronicle Monday when confirming his decision not to seek re-election. “Maybe that will bring people out to resolve that issue. Chemistry is important between the town administrator and board of selectmen.” (See related story.)

Clark said he will be taking a hiatus from job searches and has no other applications out at this time. Speaking to his unsuccessful exercise in seeking a new position, he said, “Maybe they (selectmen in the towns he has applied) see that my heart's not in it as much as it needs to be” to land a new job.

The focus now, Clark said, is on town meeting, getting the warrant done and getting ready for town meeting. He cited the need to fine-tune a balanced budget and educate voters on the wastewater funding articles going before town meeting.

“We need to focus on that,” Clark said.