Community Development director in California offered same post in Pittsfield

Saturday February 16, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- The city has offered the position of Community Development department director to a California woman, Margo Wheeler, director of Community Development in San Bernardino.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said Wheeler visited Pittsfield for an interview, met local officials and employees and has been offered the post, which Deanna L. Ruffer left in September to take a similar job in Chatham.

"We liked her very much," the mayor said Friday. "We are now waiting to hear from her."

The mayor said Wheeler, who directs a similar department in a much larger city -- listed as having a population of 213,000 -- is "very interested in moving to the East Coast" and liked the Berkshires.

"I think she wants to be here," he said.

Wheeler’s resume is enhanced through recognition she has received nationally and by the professional organizations in which she has been active, Bianchi said.

According to a notice for a lecture by Wheeler posted on an Ohio University website in January, over a long career she has been community development director in California cities and was planning director for several years in Las Vegas.

In November, the mayor said that after a search for Ruffer’s replacement, the top applicant had turned down the job in part because of the offered salary of $73,000. Another search was begun at that time.

The Community Development directorship is a three-year position subject to appointment by the mayor that does not require approval by the City Council, according to the city code. However, Bianchi has said he would formally notify the council of his choice.

Community Development staff member Bonnie Galant has been serving as the department’s interim director. Bianchi praised her and other staff members for keeping the department running smoothly despite a number of city development projects begun or in the final planning stages.

If Wheeler accepts the position here, she still would not be likely to move immediately, Bianchi said, as she would have to wrap up details of her current job and deal with a home she owns in California.

To reach Jim Therrien:,
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