Falmouth Residents Voice Thoughts on Next Town Manager

FALMOUTH – Falmouth residents voiced their thoughts on what qualities the next town manager should possess at a recent select board listening session which also led to a discussion of the group’s duties in overseeing the position. 

Several residents called for a more thorough vetting process, including Ed DeWitt, who said the board should do a background check on the next candidate.

Town meeting member Annie Hart Cool echoed this sentiment and said the person should be diplomatic. 

“I would like to see someone who does not have a history of being booted out,” she said. 

Acting Town Manager Peter Johnson-Staub has been filling the role since Julian Suso’s contentious departure last year after a negative review from the board that stated Suso had a lack of communication, poor rapport with town residents, and questionable leadership tactics. 

Suso had previously been fired as City Manager of Mentor, Ohio. A 2006 article from the News-Herald outlines a series of issues brought against Suso at the time of his dismissal.

Suso then served as town manager in Framingham for five years before the select board decided not to renew his contract.

His time as town manager there led him to being named as defendant in several lawsuits. Suso was then brought on as Falmouth’s town manager in 2011. 

For desired characteristics of the next person to do the job, Beach Committee Chair Barbara Schneider said they should be able to “build community and camaraderie.”

She also hoped the town manager would appreciate Falmouth’s volunteers and be a good communicator.  

Falmouth resident Robert Mascali said whoever takes on the job should support the concepts of equity and inclusion. He also noted the candidate shouldn’t have to reside in Falmouth.

“Given the cost of housing here and the lack of it, I would not think that that’s a must,” he said. 

However, town meeting and finance committee member Robert Duggan said there’s an accountability people have when they live in a town and are part of its community. 

“The decisions you make when you live here are a lot different than the decisions you make for a community when you’re here until 5 o’clock and then back home,” he said. 

Select Board Chair Nancy Taylor said Groux-White Consulting has been hired to help with the hiring process. A screening committee has also been appointed by the board and the position has been posted online

DeWitt spoke again after this announcement to ask the board to make sure they are made aware of minority candidates or candidates with disabilities who are screened out of the hiring process due to potential bias.

When asked about how the select board would track the performance and success of the town manager moving forward, board member Doug Brown said the group had struggled with the evaluation tool for the town manager for years.

“My first year with the evaluation I thought ‘How does this possibly relate to this job?’”

Brown said the evaluation used last year was more effective but that there was still room for improvement to make the review process “more customized to Falmouth.” 

At the end of the meeting, Taylor said the discussion had given the board insight on the ideal traits for the role and also the importance of the select board’s oversight of the position.

“That is a piece that we need to really think about and look at – in terms of how we hold them accountable, what does our process look like, what does the tool like, how often do we do it,” she said. 

The job listing states preliminary interviews for candidates are slated for March. 

By Brian Engles, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.

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