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Town Administrator finalists announced

January 30, 2015

A total of three people will move to the next round of interviews in the selection process for a new Town Administrator in Walpole.

The five-member Town Administrator Screening Committee, to which each Selectman was allowed to appoint one member, spent the last two months interviewing applicants for the position, which was vacated by former Town Administrator Michael Boynton last July.

The Screening Committee worked with consultants from the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management, which advertised the position opening and solicited applications. The firm received 21 applications for the position, and reduced the field down to nine candidates for the Screening Committee to review. The Screening Committee reviewed those applicants’ resumes and decided to interview just five of them, before unanimously recommending the three finalists.

The finalists are:

James A. Johnson, current Interim Town Administrator, 36 years old, a Walpole resident.

Prior to taking over the role of Interim Town Administrator upon Mr. Boynton’s departure, Mr. Johnson worked as Assistant Town Administrator under Mr. Boynton, a position he started in 2004. He also worked as Town Administrator in Townsend, Massachusetts from 2001 to 2004, a job he got when he was just 22 years old. Mr. Johnson also has experience in the private sector with his family’s heating oil business in Winchester, Mass. He graduated from Merrimack College with a degree in business and political science, and also has a Master of Public Administration degree from Suffolk University.

Daniel Knapik, current Republican Mayor of Westfield, Mass., 47 years old, resident of Westfield, Mass.

According to Mr. Knapik’s website, he is a third-generation Westfield resident. He was elected Mayor in 2009, after an eight-year tenure as City Councilor. He announced this month that he would not run for re-election this year.

Mr. Knapik was also a principal at an environmental consulting and compliance firm in Agawam between 2000 and 2010. Beyond his Councilor and Mayor service, he does not have any other municipal experience. Mr. Knapik’s brother, Michael Knapik, previously served as a state senator and now works for Westfield State University.

David Marciello, former Town Administrator in Rehoboth, Mass., private attorney, 47 years old, current resident of Rehoboth.

Mr. Marciello currently operates his own law firm. He served as Rehoboth Town Administrator from 2001 to 2011.

He graduated from the Massachusetts School of Law, and he has a degree in political science from UMass Boston. He graduated from the Military Police Academy at Fort McClellan, Ala. in 1986.

Mr. Marciello has been actively seeking Town Administrator positions in other communities since at least 2010, and has repeatedly been passed over even after being a finalist for some of those positions (including in Bridgewater, Dracut, Holbrook, Norton, Carver, and Sherborn).

In one interview for the Bridgewater Town Administrator position in 2010, he said his “management style boils down to two famous quotations: ‘Ronald Reagan said, ‘Surround yourself with the most qualified individuals, delegate authority and let them do their jobs.’ The second is Harry S. Truman, ‘The buck stops here.’”

All three candidates will be interviewed by all five Selectmen next Wednesday starting at 6 p.m. in a public, televised meeting. Each applicant will go through a 75-minute interview, with each Selectman having a chance to ask questions. After a random drawing, Mr. Johnson was chosen to be interviewed first, followed in order by Mr. Marciello and Mr. Knapik.

Selectmen will decide after the interviews whether they want to further the list down to two finalists, or go through another round of interviews or discussion; or whether they are comfortable making a hiring decision immediately. If Selectmen decide to hire one of the three candidates, that vote could come as early as Wednesday, after the interviews are over.

The Screening Committee was made up of two former Selectmen, Eric Kraus and Jim O’Neil; Precinct 3 RTM Catherine Turco Abate; Precinct 8 RTM Joe Moraski; and Frances Wilbur. The Screening Committee’s meetings were open to the public under the Open Meeting Law, but names of candidates were generally kept confidential to protect applicants who had not told their current employers they were looking for another job.

Other nearby communities, like Foxboro and Sharon, have undertaken similar searches for their town’s executives within the past year.

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