Powers One Of Four Finalists For Harwich Town Administrator

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Board of Selectmen News

Harwich Interim Town Administrator Joseph Powers. FILE PHOTO

HARWICH — The town administrator search committee submitted four names to selectmen Monday night as finalists for the town administrator position. Among those candidates is acting town administrator Joseph Powers, who has served as the interim town administrator since November.

The other candidates are Kenneth Gray, who served as mayor of Amesbury for six years and has 20 years of experience in the private sector; Thomas M. Guerino, the town administrator in Bourne from 2005 to 2019; and Cathy Ann Viveiros, who served as city administrator of Fall River for nearly six years.

The committee received and reviewed 44 applications, according to Town Administrator Search Committee Chairman Norman Clarke, Jr., and selected seven candidates for personal interviews, which were conducted remotely. Earlier in the week Clarke indicated that five names would be put forward, but after checking with each finalist four names were given to selectmen.

Clarke applauded the diligent work of committee members Dan Wolf, Julie Kavanagh, Linda Cebula and Michael Hurley as well as the guidance and counsel provided by Town Counsel Michele Randazzo of KP Law.

Powers has served as interim town administrator since Town Administrator Christopher Clark took a leave of absence last November. He was appointed assistant town administrator in Harwich a little more than a year ago. Powers also served as town clerk/assistant town administrator in Wellfleet and as town clerk/registrar in the town of Braintree.

“My leadership skills, developed over the past 30 years of municipal government service, including serving as a member of a board of selectmen, former chair of a school committee, moderator presiding over representative town meeting and many years as a town clerk, have guided me developing strategies in response to the present global pandemic,” Powers wrote in his letter of introduction.

Powers said he managed the strategic response to COVID-19 while maintaining core operational services in Harwich over the past several months. He also implemented strong communication channels with department heads and engaging in weekly dialogue with key stakeholders, including business and economic partners.

Former Bourne Town Administrator Guerino is presently consulting with the town of Wareham on a review of the organizational and financial status of its wastewater department. He is also serving as interim town administrator in Vernon, Vt. Guerino has also had experience as a selectman and finance committee member.

Clarke said a story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported that Guerino has been chosen as town administrator in Hadley. The story said the present town administrator was not leaving until the end of 2020 and contract negotiations with Guerino have not yet begun, Clarke said. Contacted by The Chronicle Monday night, Guerino said he was still interested in the Harwich position.

Bourne has a number of similarities to Harwich, according to Guerino. It doubles in population during the summer months and the annual budgets are very similar; the former town administrator said Bourne’s budget is $72 million, similar to what Harwich is planning for FY21.

“The town (Bourne) currently boasts combined free cash and stabilization balances of $12.95 million opposed to the town being $1.5 million in the red in 2005 when I was hired,” Guerino wrote in his letter of introduction.

“I am an experienced C level senior executive with a strong skill set and demonstrated record of success leading and managing both private sector and municipal organizations,” Gray wrote in his letter of introduction. He served as mayor of Amesbury, a small city of approximately 18,000, from January 2014 until January of this year. Amesbury has a “strong mayor” who serves as the CEO and directly manages all city departments, with the exception of the clerk’s office, and serves as chair of the district school committee, according to Gray.

Gray also worked for 20 years in the private sector, holding a series of positions with continuously increasing responsibilities in private and publicly traded companies in the semiconductor industry. He also started his own technology company, Northwave technology, Inc., in 2001.

As city administrator in Fall River, with a population of 88,000, Viveiros oversaw the directors of human resources, management information services, purchasing, legal and elections, and the grant writer. Viveiros said she fully understands “the fiscal challenges confronting cities and towns and their elected leaders. My responsibilities included day-to-day operation of all municipal departments excluding the school department.” Her financial team improved financial transparency and accountability by initiating quarterly budget reports, including capital budget updates, and developed a five-year budgetary forecasting tool for elected leaders. She reported to the mayor and was accountable to the nine-member city council. Viveiros also served on the city council for several years before becoming city administrator.

“My communication skills, patience and ability to interact with people are personal strengths,” Viveiros said.

Selectmen on Monday night agreed to shape several questions over the next week to be presented to each of the four finalists and plan to begin interviews within two weeks. The board discussed having open forum interviews allowing the public to be present.