Clarksburg town administrator search stalled until after election


CLARKSBURG -- The search for a new town administrator has stalled after the two remaining selectmen can't agree on a candidate.

The trouble stems from a vacancy on the board that leaves only two selectmen to make the decision of who to hire.

"At this point, it looks like we'll have to wait until the annual town election," Selectman Jeffrey Levanos said.

Levanos and Chairwoman Lily Kuzia discussed the administrator position in a meeting Friday that at times turned heated. They are the two remaining board members following Carl McKinney's resignation in January to apply for the position himself.

Selectmen are trying to replace former Administrator Thomas Webb, who was hired in June 2012 and retired in March. They offered the position to John Sanguinet, of Plymouth, and hoped he would start sometime this month, but he withdrew on March 21 after contract negotiations between him and the board broke down.

Levanos strongly advocated for McKinney and pointed to his years of dedication to the town -- 11 years as selectman, three years on the Finance Committee and the Board of Assessors, and nine years as the Clarksburg representative to the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District.

Kuzia meanwhile has put her support behind candidate Mark Pruhenski, the current health agent for Great Barrington, who she said had experience writing grants, building a budget, and overseeing department employees.

The job has attracted two other local candidates: Longtime Administrative Assistant Debbie Choquette and Town Accountant Christa Marsh have applied for the position, but have not been interviewed. Choquette is serving as interim administrator.

Part of Friday's meeting was spent debating whether Choquette was qualified for the position. Levanos noted the posted job description requires three years experience in upper level management and a bachelor's degree, which Choquette does not have. But Kuzia stressed her belief in promoting from within and noted Choquette's years of experience in Clarksburg.

In his argument for McKinney, Levanos stated the town is facing numerous problems, including another difficult budget year and financial record keeping practices. The town's infrastructure, including roads, also needs work, he said, and it was McKinney who had spoken to officials in Boston about how to address them.

But Kuzia repeatedly stressed a need for "new blood" in town and referenced being unhappy with how McKinney and Webb handled the discovery of record keeping issues that delayed last year's annual town meeting. In addition, she noted how both were involved in an open meeting violation from the state Attorney General's office while they were serving on the Board of Assessors.

Kuzia said the job will remain posted and applications will be accepted until someone is hired.

To reach Edward Damon:
or (413) 663-3741 ext 224.
On Twitter: @BE_EDamon


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