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Thomas Bernard notes unproductive relationship with Rep. John Barrett III during interview for Williamstown manager post


The Williamstown Select Board interviewed two candidates Monday for interim town manager.

WILLIAMSTOWN — Two candidates for interim town manager were interviewed Monday by the Williamstown Select Board: North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard and former Amherst Town Manager Barry L. De Castilho.

During his interview, Bernard mentioned to the board that he is at odds with the state representative in the 1st District, referring to John Barrett III. Bernard has asked the House speaker to undertake an ethics review involving Barrett, alleging that during a phone call last week, the lawmaker made a threat to him and his family.

“I do not have a good working relationship with our representative for the 1st Berkshire District,” Bernard said, “which has been a challenge for North Adams.”

He said he has “strong, collaborative relationships” with other colleagues, “except for this one significant exception.”

Both candidates were interviewing for an interim town manager position. The winning applicant would be the second person in that role as the town continues its search for a permanent manager.

The chosen candidate will take over for Charles Blanchard, whose contract recently was extended to Nov. 26. The new manager would serve several months as a search for a permanent Town Hall leader advances.

Blanchard has told the Select Board he could continue on until the end of April, and some members of the board have indicated that might be a logical option. Former Town Manager Jason Hoch resigned in February. Blanchard had held the interim post since April.

The Select Board is scheduled to deliberate on its choice for interim town manager Thursday morning. The board interviewed two candidates for the full-time post in October, but passed on both.

The pitches

Bernard said he encourages as much transparency as possible, pledging to be personally accessible to staff and residents. Bernard said he has a knack for spotting grant opportunities. His grant-writing experience extends to his time at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Bernard’s commitment to diversity, he said, shows in his appointments to city commissions and committees.

Castilho’s interview touched on information sharing with the members of the Select Board. Board member Jane Patton asked if he would share information that is important, even though he could act by himself as interim manager. He replied by saying that anything of overall importance to the town and its residents would be shared with board members.

When asked about DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) policy, Castilho was unaware of the acronym. Once explained, he noted his experience in affirmative action policy in Durham, N.C., and in Amherst.

“We practiced affirmative action whenever we could,” Castilho said. “I always worked on being part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

He said he applied for the Williamstown job because he loves the work.

“I consider it public service,” Castilho said, noting that he also has a personal fondness for the area. “As a kid, we used to vacation at Ladd Brook, a small hotel with cabins in Pownal,” he said. “We came into Williamstown all the time.”

Bernard’s term as mayor concludes in early January, when Mayor Jennifer Macksey will be sworn in. He declined to run for a third term. He first was elected mayor in 2017, taking office in January 2018, and led the city through the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

Bernard is a graduate of Williams College with a graduate degree from Westfield State University. He has served in administrative positions at Smith College, MCLA, Mass MoCA and the First National Bank of Boston.

Castilho has been involved in municipal administration in North Carolina and Massachusetts since 1972, including as town manager of Amherst from 1982 to 2006, and is a member of the Select Board in Buckland. He graduated from Brown University and earned a master’s degree from Syracuse University.

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