South Portland narrows city manager search to 2 candidates

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council on Tuesday announced two finalists for the vacant city manager position.

Scott Morelli, of New Gloucester, is the city manager of Gardiner. Patrick Venne, of Portland, is a lawyer and project executive with Miami-based developer The Federated Cos., and a former town manager of Berwick.

“I am truly humbled, honored and enthusiastic about being named a finalist for the South Portland city manager position,” Morelli said. “I’m looking forward to further conversations with the public, department heads and the city council in the coming weeks to learn more about them and for them to learn a bit more about me. I know that South Portland is a vibrant community with a lot of exciting projects underway.”

Venne, who is a South Portland native, said he believes in being a collaborative, consensus-driven and transparent leader. He also said the city has a special place in his heart.

“My fondest childhood memories are attached to landmarks like Willard Beach and Boothby Hill,” Venne said. “The city has tremendous potential to capitalize on what Forbes (magazine) called the most livable city in America in 2009 by building on its strengths as a robust local economy.”

The city will continue the selection process next week.

On Jan. 25, the public is invited to meet the two candidates and their spouses at the South Portland Community Center in the senior wing from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The two candidates will meet Jan. 26 with city department heads and Superintendent of Schools Ken Kunin, followed by an evening interview with the City Council.

The council anticipates announcing the new city manager and their start date the week of Jan. 30.

Morelli was also previously the executive assistant to the town manager in Framingham, Massachusetts. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University.

Venne, in addition to his law degree from the University of Maine, has a master’s degree in community development and planning from the University of Southern Maine.

The person chosen will replace former City Manager Jim Gailey, who held the position for nearly a decade before resigning to become assistant county manager for Cumberland County in late July.

The position was previously offered to Ed Collins, a Maine native and University of Maine graduate. He was previously town manager of Baileyville and Lubec, community development director in Calais, and executive director of the Quoddy Region Job Opportunity Zone in Washington County. Collins ultimately turned down the job in November.

After Collins declined, interim City Manager Don Gerrish agreed to extend his stay until a permanent replacement is hired. The Eaton Peabody consulting firm, which employs Gerrish, will also continue to assist the city without additional fees.

The only fee the city will incur is Gerrish’s pay as interim, which is $650 each workday.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at msochan@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 106. Follow Melanie on Twitter @MelanieSochan.

Scott Morelli, left, and Patrick Venne.

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