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Derry councilors debate merits of search firms while looking for administrator


DERRY — Town councilors are divided over what method to use in the search for a new town administrator following the removal of John Anderson from the position last month.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, some councilors said the town should conduct the search while others said a search firm should be hired. The last search cost approximately $15,000, according to town officials.

“From where I’m sitting now, I don’t know why we would want to spend thousands of dollars to hire a firm to help us look for a town administrator,” said Councilor Mark Osborne.

Chairman Michael Fairbanks said he had some reservation about councilors taking on the task themselves. He questioned whether there are “people with the proper skills and resources and contacts and the organization and the background to be able to do an effective search.”

Osborne said councilors should try to save taxpayers as much money as possible while conducting the search.

“And if that means it’s going to take some time to go through resumes or whatever, to me that’s just one of the things we were elected to do,” Osborne said. “I think we should treat the search for a town administrator with the same amount of time and attention that we would the budget because this is going to be one of the lasting things we do.”

Councilor Thomas Cardon agreed, saying the town hasn’t had much luck using outside search firms over the years. Administrators have averaged only about 3 years on the job during the past 20 years, he said.

“And maybe, perhaps, it’s time that we start doing something a little bit different and do something on our own,” he said.

Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores disagreed with the approach, saying an outside search firm brought in former Town Administrator Russ Marcoux, who was “one of the best we’ve had.”

Katsakiores said an outside firm could find some of the best candidates from throughout the country. After considering a number of qualified candidates, the firm could give the council from 15 to 20 names of people to interview for the position.

“We decide who we want,” she said.

Councilors Brad Benson and Neil Wetherbee also favored using a search firm.

Councilor Al Dimmock said it’s important to first know what qualifications the council is looking for in a candidate, such as whether the next administrator has to live in Derry.

“I think before we go looking for anybody we need to decide what we are looking for,” Dimmock said.

Councilors didn’t take any action on the matter.

Last month, councilors voted 6-1 not to renew Anderson’s contract after it expired on Oct. 25. Osborne was the lone councilor to vote in opposition.

Anderson, 50, was discharged without cause and will receive a settlement of approximately $45,000, according to a signed separation agreement.

The move came after Anderson, acting through attorney James Rosenberg, entered a plea of not guilty to misdemeanor charges of lewdness and indecent exposure for allegedly inviting a DirectTV salesman into his house on July 11 while he was in the nude.

A trial date has been set for Dec. 13 in Derry District Court.

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