GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

January 14, 2013

Two planning to step off Manchester board

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — MANCHESTER — The faces of town government are changing.

First, Town Administrator Wayne Melville announced his plans to retire, and accepted an interim role on Jan. 4,.

Now, the town will lose two other officials who will not seek re-election to their posts in May.

Selectmen Chairman Susan Thorne and colleague Mary Hardwick, two veterans of town politics, have confirmed they will not be seeking new terms this spring, opening two spots on the Board of Selectmen for the town elections in May.

Hardwick, who has served more than 15 years on the board, told the Times on Friday that she first got involved as a selectmen because she wanted more transparency in town affairs.

“I didn’t believe the truth was always being told,” she said.

Despite losing her first run at a seat in 1996, she ran again and secured her seat in 1997.

While she said some issues, such as an affordable housing project, can divide the town, she commended her fellow slectmen and town employees for doing great work during her tenure.

Thorne, who also previously chaired the board during her 10-year career as a selectwoman, echoed Hardwick’s words.

“After 10 years, it’s a good change for the board, and for the town,” she said. “It’s important to have new ideas and new approaches.”

While she said there was no particular issue or cause that made her run for the seat, she stressed that nobody should focus on one aspect of town government too much.

Thorne did say the town bylaws need to be addressed and reexamined, noting their “old wording.”

“Parts have been superseded by newer regulations,” she said

Both agreed the search for a new, permanent town administrator is one of the most challenging and important aspects of their last year as selectmen.

In Melville’s contract, he agreed to act as the interim town administrator until a new one is found, Thorne said.

Thorne said she hopes a new administrator can be at least named by May 1.

Hardwick added she is glad to be involved in the new search.

Thorne agreed and said any new selectmen elected will have their hands full as it is.

Selectmen have already met with a Municipal Resources Inc. representative to discuss their ideal candidates, and MRI has recently placed an ad for the position, Thorne said.

Selectmen are slated to meet with MRI on Wednesday to further discuss the progress with the search.

Both Thorne and Hardwick said they will miss the friendships and experiences they have made while serving the town.

“We have very good, very sold professional people leading our departments,” Thorne said. “That makes everyone’s job a little easier.”

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 3455 or jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.