Portland city manager finalists to meet the public

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PORTLAND — Interim City Manager Patricia Finnigan and two Massachusetts managers are finalists for the city’s top administrative job.

Julian Suso of Framingham, Mass., and Mark Rees of North Andover, Mass., are expected to be in Portland on Friday to meet with the public. The City Council is expected to begin interviewing the trio this weekend with the goal of selecting a new city manager in June.

Finnigan, Suso and Rees were selected from a pool of about 65 applicants vetted by a council search committee, with the help of headhunter Colin Baenziger. The committee included Councilors Cheryl Leeman, John Anton and Jill Duson.

Portland began looking for a new city manager at the beginning of this year, following the retirement of Joe Gray, who held the position for 10 years and had worked for the city for more than 40. Finnigan, an assistant city manager, was appointed interim manager in January.

Finnigan has been an assistant manager in Portland since 2007. Before that, she was the city manager in Auburn, which has a population of about 23,000.

As an assistant to the manager in Portland, where the population is about 66,000, Finnigan handled economic development, waterfront marketing and development, neighborhoods and communications.

Suso has been city manager of Framingham for about five years, and before that was a manager in Mentor, Ohio, for 16 years. In March, the Framingham Board of Selectmen voted not to renew Suso’s contract; his last day on the job there is June 30, according to a report in the Metrowest Daily News.

Framingham selectmen said Suso had a “lack of long-term vision,” the newspaper said.

Suso reportedly responded by saying there had clearly been differences of opinion about his professional style, as well as conflicts over the boundaries of policy and administration that sometimes occur in local government between managers and selectmen.

Framingham’s population is approximately 65,000.

Rees has been the town manager of North Andover since 2001. He also worked for the city of Framingham, where he was the chief financial officer. Prior to that, Rees was town manager of Northbridge, Mass.

North Andover has a population of about 30,000.

According to the city manager recruitment profile created for the job search, Portland is willing to pay its new city manager between $120,000 and $170,000. Finnigan is currently making about $116,000. Rees’ salary is about $125,000 and Suso receives more than $152,000.

A public reception for the finalists is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday in the State of Maine Room at City Hall.

The resumes of the finalists, along with job qualifications and other Search Committee documents are posted online at portlandmaine.gov/citymanager.htm

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net Follow her on Twitter: @katebucklin.