People In the News – Robert Mercier
Robert (Bob) Mercier, Burlington's Town Administrator, has recently made headlines with his work bringing Northeastern University's Homeland Security Research Center to town. Sitting down with Mercier, he details all he does for Burlington and the new fac
If you think of Burlington as a body, then Bob Mercier is the brain. He's the Town Administrator, the person in charge of making town governmental decisions that are too time sensitive for the Selectmen to issue.
Patch had a chance to sit down with Mercier to discuss his important role in town government and learn more about the Northeastern Homeland Security Research Center he was an integral part of in bringing to town.
“On a day to day basis I operate the functionality of the town. All the other departments in town answer to me. The police chief, the fire chief, the superintendent, building inspectors, whom ever it may be. If decisions need to be made on a higher level, they come to me,” said Mercier describing his position as Town Administrator.
Mercier's first Executive Administrative position was in Maynard which he held for two years. From there, Mercier became Burlington's T.A. which he held from 1980 through 1986. From 1986 to 1991, Mercier was hired as the Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO holding his offices in Woburn. From there, Mercier positioned himself for another T.A. job, this time in Billerica which he held from 1991-1998. In 1998, Mercier wanted to take some personal time after 11 years in various town governments. However, after only 3 months, Mercier was coaxed back to Boxford to help them restructure their government from the ground up. After a year helping Boxford compose it's Town Administrator Act, Mercier was asked to come back to Burlington and reacquired his position as Burlington's Town Administrator which he has held to this day.
“He's an absolute pleasure,” said Mercier's long time Executive Assistant, Janice Critch. “He does a lot for Burlington and he's the only person ever asked to come back to the Town Administrator job.”
“I knew what the people in our government wanted was right for Burlington, so I said “yeah”, and came back,” mentioned Mercier, explaining why he returned to Burlington.
Discussing the Northeastern Homeland Security Research Facility that is coming to town this summer, one of only seven in the entire nation, Mercier said, “we opened our arms, it's always good to have university influence in town and it will be a real national treasure, a unique facility that doesn't offer their expertise anywhere else in the country […] We know it will be a great infusion of federal dollars as well, and create a whole new industry in town.”
Other prominent work Mercier has been doing lately for the town also involves the Department of Homeland Security. In conjunction with State Representative, Charlie Murphy, Mercier and Murphy work to create the overall town budget, and have been working closely with government agents to assess “potential targets” of terrorist attacks in town. Although an attack on Burlington would be extremely rare, Mercier and the North East Homeland Security Council are doing everything they can to make sure Burlington is as safe as possible from dangers both foreign and domestic.
In his personal life, Mercier enjoys spending time with his wife of many years, Rose, and his two daughters, Amie and Cathleen. Mercier was also just blessed with his first granddaughter.
Aside from spending time with his family, Mercier is a former college athlete and an avid sports fan. Mercier can regularly be caught playing basketball, racket ball or tennis down at Empire Sports on Ace Street.
To stimulate his intellectual side, Mercier likes to study history. His historian background helps him make the tough decisions in town, mentioning, “I just love finding out how things went from A to B. If you don't learn from history you are doomed to repeat it.”