Brunswick Town Manager Gary Brown resigns; council seeks 'new direction'

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BRUNSWICK — Less than two months after two new city councilors were elected to the nine-member body, the Town Council on Monday unanimously accepted the resignation of Town Manager Gary Brown, effective on or before March 31, 2014.

In a prepared statement released after the meeting, council Chairwoman Suzan Wilson said Brown’s resignation results from “a new direction for the council.”

Wilson said, in part, that Brunswick “experienced unprecedented changes” during Brown’s tenure, including the closing of Brunswick Naval Air Station.

“Despite those challenges, the town was able to accomplish many great things, in large part because of Gary’s expertise, guidance and leadership. Changes also results in new direction for the council, and both the council and Gary recognize this,” she said. “As a result, we began discussions with Gary regarding the future direction of the town and have arrived at an agreement that works for both the town and Gary. We wish Gary the best in all his future endeavors.”

Brown became town manager in September 2009 to succeed longtime Manager Don Gerrish. Brown was hired as assistant town manager in May 2007, and then served as interim town manager following Gerrish’s retirement in January 2009.

Previously, he was town manager in Topsham from 2002 to 2007, and before that, town manager in Vassalboro and China.

“I have enjoyed my tenure here and feel that with the leadership of the council for the past four-plus years, we have accomplished great things for the town of Brunswick,” Brown said in a prepared statement Monday. “The staff here is the best one could ask to work with, and the citizens are very engaged and active in the community. I recognize that it is in the best interest of the council to find someone who will work with them as they seek the direction that they want to take this community.”

He said he was not asked to resign, and that he is not sure what he will do next.

“I plan to give the town of Brunswick my very best for as long as I’m here,” he said.

Several councilors declined Monday to speak about the decision, but District 1 Councilor David Watson said, “This, to me, is a disappointing period. I think Gary has led us through some amazing times.”

He referred to a recent move of the town’s Recreation Department to a former Navy facility, and a new police station that opened in September. Watson also said Brown has “improved the efficiency of the town government.”

“I think it’s enough to say that I have great regard and great respect for Gary Brown,” Watson said, tearing up. “He’s probably one of the most honest people and people with high integrity that I’ve met. I wish him well.”

Brown currently earns $109,000 plus benefits.

The council’s decision follows by less than seven weeks the elections of Steve Walker to replace outgoing Councilor Ben Tucker in District 2, and Jane Millett to replace outgoing District 6 Councilor Margo Knight. Walker and Millett will be inaugurated Jan. 6, 2014.

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Brunswick Town Manager Gary Brown