Cape Elizabeth close to town manager selection

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council may announce its choice for town manager next week.

The two finalists for the position, Tax Assessor Matthew Sturgis, who is chairman of the Gray Town Council, and Ephrem Paraschak, the town manager of Naples, had their second interviews on Wednesday morning. The council announced the finalists on Dec. 21.

Former Town Manager Mike McGovern retired Dec. 31 after 31 years on the job. Augusta-based consulting group Eaton Peabody has been facilitating the search for McGovern’s successor since early fall. McGovern agreed, however, to act as a consultant to the town for six months after his resignation.

Chairman Jamie Garvin on Wednesday said the council plans to announce its choice “next week at the earliest.” Following the two interviews Wednesday morning, Garvin said the council met in executive session to discuss the candidates.

The council will meet in executive session at least once more next week to make its final decision, Garvin said. The hope is to have someone start in the position as soon as possible, he said.

In November, the council appointed Assistant Town Manager/Town Clerk Debra Lane to serve as interim town manager starting Jan. 1 until a new manager is in place.

According to McGovern, who announced his retirement in August, the town received 38 applications for the position. Six candidates were interviewed by the council Dec. 13-15.

Sturgis, 48, of Gray, and Paraschak, 32, of Naples, met with town department heads and the school superintendent Tuesday, Jan. 3. That night there was also a public meet-and-greet at Thomas Memorial Library.

Only a handful of people turned out to speak with the two candidates, and Councilor Penny Jordan said that may have been because residents have confidence in either choice.

“All of the notes, calls and emails I’ve received have all been very positive about (both) the candidates,” she said. “I’m glad that people seem to be paying attention.”

Don Gerrish, a consultant with Eaton Peabody, said Tuesday evening that it’s always hard to know how many people may turn out for the opportunity to meet and ask the finalists questions.

“I’ve done some where we’ve had 50 to 60 people, others where we’ve had none, and some where we’ve only had 10 or so. But it’s important to offer this opportunity to the public,” he said.

Both candidates said their sessions with the department heads and school leaders earlier in the day Tuesday went well. “We had very good discussion and a lively debate,” Sturgis said.

Paraschak said he appreciated an invitation McGovern extended to have breakfast and drive around town so he can get better acquainted with Cape Elizabeth. 

He also said he’s impressed that for a town of its size, Cape Elizabeth “has a real sense of community and individuality. I’m also impressed with the numbers of citizens very involved in (all the different) community groups.”

Staff writer Kate Irish Collins contributed to this report. Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner

Cape Elizabeth resident Ray Shevenell, left, speaks with town manager candidate Ephrem Paraschak during a public forum at Jan. 3 at Thomas Memorial Library.

Matt Sturgis, left, one of two candidates for town manager in Cape Elizabeth, speaks with Jamie Garvin, the Town Council chairman, during a public forum at the library Jan. 3.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.