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A look at Conway’s two top administrator candidates

CONWAY — On Aug. 12, Tom Hutcheson of Greenfield will bring years of federal, regional and local government experience to the town.

Hutcheson will leave his current position as town administrator in Northfield, giving a 30-day notice, to become the town administrator for Conway. He leaves Northfield after a little over two years.

Hutcheson was one of two finalists interviewed for the job, getting picked over Laura Krutzler of South Deerfield. Both candidates were also finalists in the previous town administrator search, in which the Selectboard hired Amanda Majewski-Winn.

In March 2011, Hutcheson, a longtime western Massachusetts resident, landed his first municipal job for Northfield.

In the rural town of 2,883 people, Hutcheson was helping its transition as it codified town bylaws.

Although the jobs and salaries are similar in the two towns, Hutcheson said he prefers the way Conway is organized and sought the job for that reason.

“Conway has some structural amenities that Northfield is still considering such as general government bylaws. The town is well organized,” said Hutcheson.

Hutcheson believes he has experience to help the town in several projects from the construction of a new highway garage to the development of the Rose property off Shelburne Falls Road.

“In my experience in Northfield, I’ve learned a lot about the details of municipal administration,” Hutcheson said. “I’ve also had dealings with a lot of disparate interest groups. I feel well-positioned to help the town move forward.”

Hutcheson is also a visitor to Conway, frequenting Natural Roots, a horse-powered vegetable farm in town often. He also has many Conway friends.

Before working in Northfield, Hutcheson worked for the Organic Trade Association for about 12 years as a regulatory analyst. In that position, he worked with the federal Department of Agriculture and Congress to further the interest of the organic trade. He worked with Congress to draft a farm bill for organic trade.

“I have a lot of experience with the government on the national level. I think I can bring that perspective,” Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson has also volunteered for regional boards and committees. Since 1993, he has worked with the Franklin Regional Planning Board and since 1999 he has volunteered for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee.

Though he spent many years on the national level, Hutcheson said he prefers working for local government.

“I like local or I wouldn’t still be in the business,” he said. “I like working on the ground. Anything I can do to help towns do their business is a rewarding job.”

Runner-up

Conversely, Krutzler, the runner-up, has 18 years of local municipal government experience in Hampshire County.

Since 2008, Krutzler served as the administrative assistant to the town administrator and Selectboard in South Hadley. Before that from 2001 to 2008, Krutzler worked as a special projects supervisor for the Northampton Fire Department, where she prepared and monitored a $3.4 million budget and oversaw payroll. She also gained her grant-writing experience at Northampton Fire.

From 1985 until 2001, Krutzler worked as a board coordinator for the Northampton Planning Department, where she served as recording secretary for the Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.

She is also a 1984 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Krutzler’s first job out of college was covering Conway as a correspondent for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Though she hasn’t worked as a town administrator, Krutzler believed she had a more expanded role in South Hadley than she would have otherwise. She supported three different town administrators in a period of transition following the departure of a long-time town administrator in 2007.

“This challenging experience has helped me to develop skills above and beyond my job title as I have worked hand-in-hand with acting administrators during this time to oversee the day-to-day administrative functions of the town,” Krutzler said.

Though she didn’t get the job in Conway, Krutzler has no hard feelings.

“I understand them choosing (Hutcheson),” she said. “I haven’t been a town administrator. It sounds like he has a lot of experience. I’m sure he’s imminently well-qualified.”

Hutcheson was selected from seven applicants.

The Selectboard interviewed the two candidates in a special meeting on June 28 at 5 p.m. at the town offices. The Selectboard followed the correct process in selecting and hiring the town’s newest employee. A story earlier this week implied the board had not been open to the public in its search process. According to the meeting minutes, discussion of the two candidates and their qualifications followed the separate interviews on June 28.

On that Friday night, the board voted unanimously to offer the position to Hutcheson. And the board announced its decision this week.

There was no search committee for the town administrator job this time around. The Selectboard did the screening of the applicants. The Selectboard doesn’t have to form a separate screening committee, but if it does, state law requires no quorum of the parent body may be on such a committee.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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