NASHUA — More than eight months have passed since the city’s community development director retired from her position, and the search for her replacement continues.
“It has been a long time,” admits Mayor Donnalee Lozeau. “We have had over 50 candidates that have applied, but probably less than a dozen that have been qualified.”
Katherine Hersh, who held the position for about 10 years, retired on June 28. Lozeau considers the role of community development director as a vital position in the city and is optimistic that the perfect candidate will be found.
A first round of interviews has been conducted with approximately six or eight applicants, according to Lozeau.
“I think we are down to two or three that we are considering for a second interview,” she said, adding the final candidate will need to be approved by the Board of Aldermen.
She anticipates bringing forward a final selection for the community development director position to the board by the end of March.
“Whenever we have someone missing from a key position, especially someone very seasoned like Kathy Hersh, it is a huge loss. You feel it, and other people have to pick up those responsibilities,” said the mayor.
Still, Lozeau said she will not settle on a candidate just to fill the role. She said it took a long time to find the ideal candidates for other important city positions such as the chief financial officer and the human resources director, adding the investment in time was worth the final selections.
“I think we are lucky to have a few that we think would be good fits,” said Lozeau, who believes one of the final two or three candidates will ultimately be chosen for the job.During the first round of interviews, Hersh and Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy assisted with the process. Lozeau has already asked the city’s director of Public Works and the economic development director to participate in the second round of interviews.
Lozeau was originally hoping to fill the community development director role by the end of last summer. However, after an initial round of advertising the position, a second round of advertising was initiated and expanded to other professional media outlets and locations.
The community development director is in charge of planning, directing and supervising the activities and operations of the planning, building and code enforcement functions of the city, while also providing policy and operational advice, direction and leadership on community development matters.
During Hersh’s time as director of the Community Development Division, she was instrumental in helping to update the city’s master plan, the downtown master plan and the first East Hollis Street master plan. She also spearheaded the passage of Nashua’s first tax increment financing district.
Lozeau said earlier that Hersh’s energy and passion for her work made great things happen in the Gate City, and the mayor is hoping to find someone just as passionate. Hersh earned about $110,000 a year in her role.