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Johnson promoted to Town Administrator

February 4, 2015

Interim Town Administrator Jim Johnson was chosen by the Board of Selectmen to be the next Town Administrator in a unanimous vote late Wednesday evening.

The vote came after more than four hours of interviews with the three finalists who came before the Board.

Mr. Johnson, who interviewed first, presented himself as a loyal Walpolean who wanted to give back to his town by serving in the top administrative post. He suggested that as a town homeowner with kids in the school system, and as someone who owns several rental properties in Walpole, he is particularly impacted by property taxes and by the town’s quality of life. He stressed that he felt the town could avoid property tax overrides for certain projects, including for some facilities.

Mr. Johnson, who has served as Assistant Town Administrator in Walpole since 2005, also repeatedly appeared to attempt to distance himself from his predecessor, Michael Boynton, by suggesting he would be less of a micro-manager and more inclusive in his decision-making. He suggested that “time management” was his “biggest weakness” in that he tends to take on too many tasks.

Selectmen also received a letter of support for Mr. Johnson signed by all town department heads.

Selectmen Cliff Snuffer and Chris Timson seemed to be most impressed with Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik, who interviewed last. During his interview, Mayor Knapik presented himself as a solid fiscally conservative mayor who was capable of developing “consensus” on important issues.

David Marciello, former Town Administrator in Rehoboth, did not seem to impress any of the Selectmen at all during his interview. Several Selectmen said after the interviews that they believe that Mr. Marciello, who now works as an attorney, might be better suited for academic or “professorial” circles rather than town administration.

While Mr. Snuffer said he preferred Mayor Knapik, he said he was willing to make the Board’s vote for Mr. Johnson a unanimous one. He said he would personally reach out to Mr. Johnson with some of his concerns, such as that he felt Johnson hadn’t really “grown” in the position to the point that the town requires.

Mr. Timson also said that while he liked Mayor Knapik, he thought Mr. Johnson would be equally fine.

Selectmen Mark Gallivan, Nancy Mackenzie and Jim Stanton all said the clear choice for them was Mr. Johnson. Mr. Stanton said that while Mayor Knapik was a “strong candidate,” he was primarily a “Westfield guy” who had grown up in that city and might have difficulty adjusting to a relocation of his young family to the Walpole area. During his interview, Mayor Knapik indicated he would move closer to Walpole if selected for the position, but did not specify if he would move specifically to Walpole.

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