If Westland, Mich., Deputy Chief Eric Smith is to be confirmed as Gloucester's new fire chief Tuesday night, it will now go against the grain of a unanimous, negative recommendation from a key City Council subcommittee.
The council's Ordinance and Administration subcommittee — comprised of councilors, Sefatia Romeo Theken, Bob Whynott and Steve LeBlanc — tonight voted unanimously against recommending Smith for approval by the full Council when it meets Tuesday night at 7 to consider the fire chief's nomination from Mayor Carolyn Kirk.
The committee voted for the negative recommendation based on the members' belief that Smith's experience credentials simply do not match the criteria for chief's candidates as outlined under the city's ordinance governing the search.
While the city ordinance's qualifications include that the new chief "shall" have served three years in a command position of "deputy chief or higher," Smith's resume shows that he served as a deputy chief for one year under the Westland Fire Department structure — which has just one deputy post for the department's second in command — and an additional year as a battalion chief.
Mayor Kirk, City Solicitor Suzanne Egan, and representatives of the city's Search Committee and consulting firm, Municipal Resources Inc. of New Hampshire, all argued that Smith's record represented equivalent experience, and Egan and MRI both said that Smith — who followed the proceedings from the audience — also served as an acting battalion commander, though they does not appear on his resume.
But the councilors stuck to the ordinance, which does not include any reference to equivalent experience.
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