New Canton board will likely hire new town manager
With November quickly approaching and only two more meetings before an entire new set of town leaders takes the helm, it’s likely the new board will be in charge of hiring the new town manager.
The process to hire a new manager began in January when current Town Manager Al Matthews announced his intention to retire by the end of this calendar year.
The current board has mulled over applications since February and held several closed session discussions regarding the candidates. The board and mayor has already interviewed five qualified people out of a stack of about 40 applications. Although they stopped accepting applications in April, the board later decided to continue accepting more applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
In early July, Mayor Mike Ray called for a public meet and greet once the board chose its top candidates, which many residents were in favor of. However, the idea was discarded by the board. Aldermen Jimmy Flynn and Ed Underwood shared the opinion that the candidates should have been informed of a meet and greet as soon as they applied for the job. Alderman Patrick Willis worried that a meet and greet would discourage candidates from moving forward with the process.
Since then, not much progress has been made in the hiring process.
"With the remaining time that the current board has in office it would seem to me that the newly elected board members will possibly be making this decision," said Mayor Mike Ray.
Without elaboration on the matter, Alderman Ed Underwood said, "No decision has been made at this time."
But Alderman Jimmy Flynn believes there is too little time left to make a decision.
“To me it’s become increasingly evident that this board will not be able to hire one by November and it will probably be a process where the new board comes in and takes over the hiring,” Flynn said.
He cited other pressing issues such as the weeks-long trial and ongoing legal battle concerning Camp Hope and other legal issues that held up the hiring process.
“We just kind of drug our feet early on, but we had so many applications to go through and we tried to narrow it down. It was just a job we couldn’t get done in an allotted amount of time,” Flynn said.
To put it simply, “time caught up with us,” he said.
Alderman Patrick Willis refrained from speaking too in-depth about personnel, but said he would have liked for the board to have started the interview process sooner.
“We all want to find the best possible candidate because Canton deserves that. One of the big challenges for the new manager, whoever that is, will be working with an entirely new board. That situation offers some challenges and hopefully some opportunities,” he said.
Alderman Kenneth Holland said there is still a chance the current board could make a decision before the new board takes over if the board can come to a quick agreement.
"We've interviewed several perspective candidates and so far everyone seems to be qualified, but we can't seem to reach a decision on it," he said.
Matthews will be stepping down from his role at the town hall Dec. 31 whether the board makes a decision or not. In the event a new manager is not hired by then, an interim manager will have to be appointed.
“I believe we have capable people that can step up and manage the town until a final decision is made,” Flynn said.