The Burlington Board of Selectmen have chosen a finalist for the Town Administrator job.
After meeting for interviews Monday night, the board announced it has chosen to offer the position to Ashland Town Manager John D. Petrin. Town leaders and board members will meet with Petrin this week to negotiate a contract, Board of Selectmen Chair Walter Zenkin explained after the meeting. Zenkin said that if all goes well the board should vote to approve the contract during the meeting next Monday.
Zenkin said all three finalists chosen with help from the Edwards J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management, a public entity based at UMass Boston hired by the town to conduct the new town administrator search and the were strong candidates.
"All three candidates had unique qualities and I think any of them could fit in Burlington easily," he said. "The good thing is the search committee and Collins Center provided us three distinct candidates. That made the decision harder."
Zenkin said that during the interview the board was impressed with Petrin's enthusiasm and willingness to tackle the job.
"What stood I out I believe is his passion, ability and personality," he said. "He has a team approach to get things done and ensures people have trust in him. That's important."
Zenkin acknowledged that Petrin had less experience managing town budgets the size of Burlington's, but said he handled difficult times in Ashland and helped cut costs and get the town back on track.
"When in Ashland they were financially in trouble he helped to get the unions and departments to agree to cutbacks and that takes a lot of work," he said. "I think his quality of communication and trust is something that helped.That is a great quality [Current Town Administrator Robert] Mercier has as well. Yes, he is used to managing a $57 million budget and we have a budget in excess of $100 million he can learn what he needs. You can teach that but can't teach personality."
Petrin has been the Ashland Town Manager since 2005. Petrin has a variety of community government experience. He was the Park Commission in Bellingham from 1980 to 1985. He was also the Town Administrator for Pepperell from 1985 to 1988 and had the same position in Harvard from 1988 to 2001. Petrin was also the Assistant Superintendent of Schools for Marlborough from 2001 to 2005. He has a BA in political science from Stonehill College and a Masters in Public Administration from Northeastern University.
Petrin said he was happy to be offered the position.
"I'm really excited about the offer," he said. "Burlington is a great community and it has a lot to offer its residents. It's high functioning as well; Mr. Mercier has done a great job and has a great team and I'm looking forward to working with everyone."
Petrin is also a finalist for the Framingham town administrator spot and is scheduled to interview with the town this evening. However, he said if the contract works out with Burlington he will drop out of that process.
"Basically Burlington is on the table right now and I'll deal with the Burlington discussion and if we come to an agreement, that's it," he said. "I'd pull out of the Framingham negotiations at that point."