Two of three town administrator candidates interviewed by Select Board

By Douglas McCulloch | May 01, 2018
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Robert Peabody and Warren Rutherford.

Two of three contenders for Dartmouth’s next town administrator highlighted their business and municipal experience at their public interviews before the Select Board on April 30.

Three candidates were selected as finalists for the post: Robert Peabody, Warren Rutherford, and Shawn MacInnes. Peabody and Rutherford were interviewed on April 30, while MacInnes will be interviewed on May 7.

Peabody, is currently the town manager in Bridgton, Maine. His resume includes a tenure on the Rockland, Maine city council and running several Main Street businesses.

“I’m at that point in life where my kids have left home,” Peabody said. “I have one in LA, one in Albuquerque, and my older daughter and her family just moved to North Carolina. I love Maine but I’m looking for new challenges and I’m looking to advance my career.”

Peabody highlighted his background, which includes time both as an elected official, business owner, and town manager.

“I think if you look at my background, I bring not only 20 years of municipal management, but I was also a business owner for 20 years,” Peabody said. “I know what it’s like bringing home the payroll to folks. I’ve been an elected official… I think it rounds me out, it rounds out my perception of the issues.”

In economic issues, the changing retail landscape was a dominant issue, as was maintaining the uniqueness of Dartmouth’s various villages.

“The big box complexion is changing country-wide and I’m not sure -- I don’t have a crystal ball on where that’s going to end up,” Peabody said.

While in Rockland, he looked at adaptive reuse of a Walmart building that shut down, and suggested the same could be done in Dartmouth.

Select Board member David Tatelbaum was concerned with Peabody’s lack of background in Massachusetts municipal law. Peabody said it would be a learning curve but staff will be available to assist.

Rutherford was interviewed next. He currently owns Rutherford Advisors, an executive recruiting and coaching firm located on Cape Cod, which he has run since 1997. He served as Barnstable’s first town manager from 1990 to 1997 following a shift in government structure, as town executive for Canton from 1984-1990, and worked for the MacKinnon Training Center between 1978 and 1984.

Dartmouth is not new to him -- his son was in Barnstable High School’s marching band and his daughter did gymnastics, which frequently brought his family to competitions in town.

“There’s many similarities from where I was and where I am now and where I hope to be here in Dartmouth,” Rutherford said. “It’s an attractive opportunity for me to re-enter the field of public administration,” noting his consulting company kept his feet in the municipal waters.

Getting up to speed on changes to municipal laws will be a challenge, especially the pension fund process. He said he feels confident researching the law himself and asking questions if need be.

“I’ve never been shy about bringing myself up to speed about what the laws are,” Rutherford said.

In economics, Rutherford highlighted working with property owners to extend a sewer system to an industrial park at no cost to the town, which allowed business to expand there slowly but surely.

Tatelbaum was concerned with the abrupt end to Rutherford’s tenure as Barnstable’s town manager. Rutherford said he resigned following what he called a “very strong disagreement” over the location of a proposed senior center, and an incident in which the school department exceeded its budget.

“I don’t have any concerns about it,” Rutherford said. “I think anyone you talk to in the community will say that we had differences of opinion it was time for a change.”

MacInnes has been Yarmouth’s municipal operations director for the past 21 years, and also owns and operates an engineering consulting service called MacInnes Consulting. His interview will be broadcast live on DCTV.

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