South Portland ready to interview city manager candidates

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council has reviewed applicants in its second search for a new city manager and is expected to begin interviews during the second week of January.

During an executive session held Wednesday, Dec. 28, councilors studied 33 applications to decide who will be interviewed.

While he couldn’t reveal much because discussions are just beginning, Councilor Claude Morgan said the council made selections, and the initial pool of candidates will include fewer than 10 people. 

Interim City Manager Don Gerrish replaced longtime 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 city’s first search ended with the job being offered to Ed Collins of Lehi, Utah, who unexpectedly declined the offer. Collins is a Maine native and a graduate of the University of Maine, who in the late 1980s and early 1990s was town manager of Baileyville and Lubec, community development director in Calais, and executive director of the Quoddy Region Job Opportunity Zone in Washington County.

The first search process took about three months. After Collins declined, 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.

The council tweaked the job requirements after Collins declined the position in an effort to appeal to wider pool of qualified applicants, removing the requirement that the city manager live in South Portland

“Just because you don’t live in the community doesn’t mean you’re not committed to the community,” Councilor Linda Cohen said in November. 

The revision apparently worked, since Gerrish said Wednesday that the newest pool yielded more in-state applicants.

“That was a pleasant surprise, and the objective of making that (requirement) removal did open some doors,” Morgan said. 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.