Watertown City Manager Finalists to Appear at 2 or More Public Meetings

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The three finalists for Watertown City Manager will appear at public meetings at least twice in early May before the City Council makes its final decision.

Wednesday evening the names of the three City Manager finalists were announced: George Proakis (Executive Director of Somerville’s Office of Strategic Planning & Community Development), Norman Khumalo (Hopkinton Town Manager), and John Curran (Billerica Town Manager). Read more about the Finalists here.

City Council President Mark Sideris said a public forum and public interviews by the Council have been planned. The public forum will be held on May 9 at 6 p.m., and the Council interviews have been scheduled for May 12 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Council Chamber in City Hall (149 Main St.), and also will be live on Zoom.

Ultimately, the Council will meet to choose the next City Manager. No date has been set for that meeting.

At the public forum, each candidate will be available for 45 minutes to an hour, Sideris said, and will speak to the public and answer questions.

“Any member of the community and anyone who works for this community is welcome to join,” Sideris said.

The Council will ask their own questions at the May 12th meeting.

“The public can come, but we will spend more time allowing the Council to ask questions,” Sideris said. “Should time allow, the community can ask questions.”

Sideris said he has not ruled out having additional public meetings, but will have to see what happens.

“Once those two processes are completed, we will take a step back to see if there is a consensus: are we going to have another community forum, are we going to XYZ,” Sideris said. “We will let the Council decide after the second (meeting) what they think would be the next step.”

Councilor John Gannon asked if an hour with each candidate would be enough. Sideris said he doesn’t want to just have meetings for the sake of having a meeting. He worried that the same questions would be asked “over and over” and said that the Manager Screening Committee asked questions having looked at the City’s position statement. That document was created from questions raised at a community forum at the start of the search.

“I think some of the work has been done by the Screening Committee. It was gruesome — a few long nights. These people rose to the top,” Sideris said. “I believe we have three distinct choices and three distinct different styles. I think the community will pick that out and I don’t think we have to drag this on for two months asking the same question over and over.”

Councilor Tony Palomba asked if each candidate would get the same questions at the public forum, or if the public would pose different questions to each candidate. He said some of the questions may be addressed in the candidates’ applications. Search consultant Bernie Lynch of Community Paradigms, said he expects that the public would ask different questions.

See more about the Town Manager Search on the City of Watertown’s website by clicking here.

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