NYC mayor's aide is Great Barrington's town manager choice


GREAT BARRINGTON -- A senior project manager in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration has been selected as the next town manager.

Jennifer Tabakin was selected by the Board of Selectmen on Monday evening following interviews with the two finalists for the position during a special town meeting. The other candidate was Ronald San Angelo, of Naugatuck, Conn.

Tabakin doesn't have experience as a town manager, but the Selectmen said they were confident her extensive experience managing multimillion-dollar construction projects demonstrated her capability.

"I feel what she brings is exciting and exciting always brings risk," Selectmen Vice Chairwoman Deb Phillips said.

Tabakin would replace outgoing Town Manager Kevin O'Donnell, whose contract runs out at the end of April. O'Donnell was hired in 2008, but the Selectmen chose not to renew his contract in light of consecutive poor performance reviews.

Selectmen Chairman Sean Stanton said details regarding salary, start date, and the length of the Tabakin's contract would be determined in the coming weeks. The salary would need to be approved during town meeting. O'Donnell earned a salary of just under $102,000.

Both candidates had lunch with town officials on Monday. They also met with department heads and then were invited to a public meet-and-greet. The candidates were then publicly interviewed by the Selectmen during the special meeting.

Tabakin's background includes economic development in capital project development in the deputy mayor's office. She managed the design and construction of a $280 million project on the East River and directed a $300 million Yankee Stadium Park Project. She was also a project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The other candidate, San Angelo, had experience as a town manager. The Selectmen praised his qualifications and experience, but stressed the need for creativity and a departure from the status quo.

The Selectmen said Tabakin would have a learning curve, they said, but they were confident Tabakin could overcome the challenge.

Selectwoman Alana Chernila said during deliberations Tabakin best matched the expectations previously stated by the board.

"We need a change and a shift in how things happen and I think it's a good time to take a risk," she said.

Selectman Stephen Bannon also expressed concerns, but he believed she was the right choice.

"The one reservation I have is the lack of experience," he said, "but I think she will be willing to make it up with hard work and with her general knowledge."

During her interview, Tabakin expressed familiarity with the area because her parents and other relatives live in the Berkshires. She also said she visits Ski Butternut.

Tabakin expressed confidence about taking the reins of the upcoming Main Street Reconstruction project, given her background with construction projects.

"I have the technical skills needed at this time," Tabakin said.

She described herself as accessible.

"I am pretty easy to work with for most people," she said, "but I didn't get to do the stuff I do because I don't have a tough side to me."

To reach John Sakata:
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